Friday, July 21, 2006

Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Lebanon conflict

Josh Manchester at Tech Central Station has written an interesting column titled Shaken and Stirred where Manchester argues that the removal of Saddam Hussain's regime in Iraq has changed the attitude of Sunni Arabs in the Middle East, to the advantage of the United States.
"The Saudi foreign minister, al-Faisal, led a triumvirate including Egypt and Jordan that, according to the AP report, was '...criticizing the guerilla group's actions, calling them 'unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.'' Faisal said, 'These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we simply cannot accept them.' . . . The Arab leaders are frightened that the acts of the terrorists they have coddled for decades might have consequences for them. And they are very frightened of what Iran may do next.'

These regimes would most certainly not be afraid of what Iran may do next if Saddam Hussein still ran Iraq, providing for the Arab world a deterrent against Iran.
Then there is an analysis of this column by Tigerhawk
we have in the perception of the Gulf Sunnis removed the Iraqi Sunni barrier to Iran's western expansion. They (and, to be frank, the United States) can no longer "free ride" on Baghdad's first line of defense. That has polarized the Gulf Sunnis (and other major Sunni Arab countries) into taking a stand against Iran. Josh argues that Saudi Arabia's open opposition to Iran is a recent and profound development. It is. As recently as the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 (in which Iranian Hezbollah agents, possibly working in concert with Al Qaeda, blew up a building housing American Air Force personnel near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia), the Saudis supposedly frustrated American investigators precisely because they did not want to risk a confrontation with Iran. Now they are willing to confront Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in implicit support of Israel. That is an astonishing reversal, and it is because Saddam's government is no longer in power in Baghdad. The Saudis began hunting al Qaeda in May 2003, and now they are helping to shut down Hezbollah.
Sometimes we don't appreciate the way in which removing Saddam Hussain from power has altered reality and the perception of that reality in the Middle East. It's about time was started taking into account the views of the differing factions and use them to help us neutralize the Iranian threat and win the global war on terror.