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                     Iraq And Prince Saud al-Faisal

September 28/05        It's true, Michael Brown, Katrina & Rita, Senate Majority Leader Frist & his blind trust, and now Tom Delay, are all significant, but....   add to those items the entertainment and societal trivia which clog the media, and the Iraqi conflict becomes somewhat diminished as news.                                               

       Of course Iraq is covered; it's hard to escape it because it's vicious and it worsens every day.  President Bush made a little speech today to beef up his image by claiming "progress" with the news that our forces killed al Queda leader Abu Azzam, the insurgents' "emir of Baghdad," Bush using his favorite meaningless word, "strategy" numerous times, and   reemphasized that things will get worse as we approach the referendum on Iraq's constitution; but can it get much worse? Check CBS which opens it's story with: "Behind the blood and chaos...an undeclared civil war...underway in Iraq...between Sunnis and Shiites..."  

         

      And unless I've been missing it because I took a few days off, the story that hasn't come forward to the degree that I think it should, and which  stands out for me, is:

       The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, a son of the late King Faisal, came to Washington.....

 Continued....    recently to meet with administration officials including Bush and Condoleezza Rice.  The Prince offered some very unpleasant predictions on Iraq, which were in direct opposition to the administration's usual positive spin, which is that the Iraqi elections and constitution were successful, and quote:  "The forward movement of the political process is the best answer."      Really?

     Anyway, enormously disappointed by the administration's tepid response, Prince Faisal invited a bunch of reporters to the Saudi embassy and told them in no uncertain terms: "There is no dynamic move pulling the nation (Iraq) together." And: "All the dynamics are pulling the country apart," which was an important part of the message he gave to Bush who apparently was not impressed, or who was at least irritated by such disagreeable news.

       A specific complaint made by the prince was that the U.S. had described "...every Sunni as a Baathist criminal," a problem for the Prince of a country that has a Sunni majority.  "Unless something is done to bring Iraqi's together," he went on, "elections alone won't do it. A constitution alone won't do it."  He blamed the U.S. for not insisting on a more important role for Sunnis.

       I have no great love for Saudi Arabia, which is another subject altogether, but keep in mind al-Faisal has been the Saudi foreign minister for 30 years, and therefore knows the thinking of his Sunni countrymen,  and all his country's middle eastern neighbors, all of whom are exceedingly worried about a constitution that would create partitioning, causing a civil war between the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds, a war that would draw into it, these same neighbors.

       The Prince emphasized, "This is a very dangerous situation, a very threatening situation."

       Remember that Bush's father during the Gulf War in 91, understood this.  He stopped short of Baghdad and left Saddam in place, not because he felt kindly toward Saddam and the Iraqis, but to prevent the kind of  disintegration of Iraq we are seeing today. Bush senior and his advisors feared a bloody civil war would draw the surrounding nations into the fray and completely destabilize the middle east, thereby preventing the flow of oil.  Bush junior wasn't, and isn't, so smart, considering the oil he was hoping to control--the reason he deceived the American people --was supposed to pay for the Iraqi reconstruction, and is now down to a trickle. 

       Today we are witnessing the killing of American and Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi policemen, Iraqi politicians, the massacre of innocents, plus both Sunni and Shiite death squads assassinating each other by shooting and beheading. 

       What Prince Faisal is telling us via a media which did not make this the major story it actually is, is that if the constitution is not ratified, things could get worse.  If it is ratified, things could get worse anyway, because the constitution will not have given the Sunnis the role the prince believes they should have--not because he loves them, but because he understands that they will intensify their efforts to regain the loss of  power they enjoyed under Saddam.  Unless the Sunnis are included, he said, "Iraq will be finished forever."   Civil war?

       Think of this partitioning: a Kurdish state in the north (on the border with Turkey--the Turks hate them), a Shiite state in the south, and a Sunni state in the center.  The Turks will attack the Kurds, Iran will support the friendly Shiites, the Saudi Sunni majority will support the Iraqi Sunnis.  This is what Prince Faisal understands: the complexity of tribal, religious, ethnic and cultural traditions, fraught with emotional energy, which a secular Saddam had held in check; an energy which has already been released like flammable gas into the ether, just waiting for a spark.

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