Thursday, April 24, 2008

Killing anti-occupation Shiites seems to be good for Baghdad-Saudi relations, and also for Petraeus' career

It was back in December 2006 that Mamoun Fandy (formerly of Georgetown, USIP and the [James] Baker Institute, among other things, and also a person close to the Saudi king) predicted in an op-ed in a Saudi newspaper that John Abizaid would be fired as Centcom chief and be replaced by David Petraeus. Shortly thereafter Abizaid was fired and Petraeus was appointed, not Centcom chief, but head of Iraq operations. Now he is being appointed Centcom chief. So Fandy was a little off on the timing, but he had the concept right. Let's go back and see why he thought this would happen.

(The following two chunks of text are from a missing-links post dated January 5, 2007, after the firing of Abizaid and the announcement of the Fallon/Petraeus appointments, looking back and quoting from Mamoun Fandy's prediction). Fandy had written:
David Petraeus, or whatever other general takes the place of Abizaid, will have to be a part of the new strategy of the US administration, and will have to be more proactive, and perhaps less diplomatic, in explaining conditions in the field to Washington and to the neighboring states [neighboring Iraq]. We read the leaked Hadley memo that was printed in the New York Times, and that implied changing the head of the Iraqi government. The fact is that stability in Iraq and the region requires change not only in Iraq, but on both sides, that of the government of Iraq and the American administration. Change in Centcom leadership in Qatar is part of the overall change that is required by the new strategic balance.
And what exactly is the strategic change that Fandy was predicting?
The first thing this change will mean is a change in the operating strategy, in the way CentCom deals with the terrorist groups in the region, and there will be two parts to this, military and political. Perhaps we will be seeing more visits [to CentCom] from countries that border Iraq, and from other important countries in the region, looking for the application of security measures to limit entry of terrorists into Iraq, along with a request for an increase in US forces in the region in keeping with the size of the danger. (The italics are mine). And perhaps the new general will see the need for confrontation, and not for discussions, with Iran! (The exclamation point is Fandy's)
(Both of the above chunks of text are my Jan 5 07 rendition of Fandy's Dec 06 predictions)

Why go to the trouble of showing that this Saudi-regime person was right?

For one thing, consider the recent interview remarks of Maliki's national-security adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, (in Asharq alAwsat, as it happens, the same place Fandy's op-eds appear). Rubaie indicated all was not failure at the Kuwait Iraq-neighbors meeting. Rubaie criticized Syria because he said 110 suicide fighters were entering Iraq each month via Syria, and "if the Syrian security apparatus was working seriously on this, they would be able to stop these suicide-fighters from getting to Iraq". He repeated more than once that these people are all coming into Iraq from Syria. And he said the reason Syria wasn't stopping this is political: "They think of stability in Iraq as a victory for democracy and freedoms, and they read that as a victory for the Americans and for the American project in the region."

Rubaie also criticized Iran, but not as an ideological and anti-American, anti-democracy enemy like Syria. He described Iran as having a "complex" strategy, supporting both the Mahdi Army and AlQaeda, with the ultimate aim of seeing a sectarian Shiite regime amenable to Iran, "which isn't going to happen".

By contrast, Rubaie described the relationship with the Saudi regime as "ideal".
[Baghdad and Riyadh] have a hotline, and we will have Iraqi officers stationed in Saudi Arabia, and there will be Saudi officers stationed in Iraq.
So here we have the Saudi-favorite Petraeus finally being promoted to overall regional command, and at the same time a strong and "ideal" (according to Rubaie) security-cooperation relationship between the GreenZone and the Saudi regime.

What held up the development of this relationship, no doubt, was the fact that Maliki had yet to show his "impartiality", and earn Saudi respect, via willingness to kill anti-regime, anti-American Shiites. So to that extent you could say that the post-Hadley-memo process has been productive. Not, of course, in any of the ways that the corporate media or the food-chain people would have had you believe.


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