January 19, 2006


Iran Crisis: Cheney Plays the Egypt Card: Vice president deals Mubarak in on nuclear standoff (James Ridgeway, January 17th, 2006, Village Voice)

According to the Iraqi press, Cheney was expected to broach the possibility of Egypt’s sending troops to Iraq--as a last resort--along with other units from countries in the Arab League. Cheney is expected to raise the same idea in Saudi Arabia.

The thinking is that Egypt can be drawn into a confrontation with Iran because of its close proximity and because Egypt's leaders would be happy to come down hard against any Shiite radicals working out of Iran and bent on causing trouble in Egypt. This all comes from Juan Cole, the Mideast expert who teaches at the University of Michigan and keeps a Web page.

The Iraqi government might agree to such a deal in the end run. Egypt has longstanding friendly relations with people in the Iraq guerrilla movement and might have some sway with them. In addition, helping the U.S., which gives it $2 billion in aid, would be a plus, and there is always the possibility of Egypt and the U.S. completing some sort of free-trade arrangement that would open the U.S. to Egyptian goods.

Should the Iran imbroglio go to the UN, Egypt could operate under the UN flag. The countries of the Arab League are against Iran developing nuclear armaments. In other words, dragging Egypt into Iraq might kill two birds with one stone--inserting Egypt as a player in that war, and pushing them toward a confrontation with Iran.

Well, if the Administration didn't grasp the enmity between Shi'ites and Sunni before they went into Iraq, they've figured out how to use it now.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 19, 2006 9:10 AM
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