March 16, 2007


For U.S. and Sadr, Wary Cooperation: Radical Shiite Cleric Seen as Crucial To Success of Baghdad Security Plan (Sudarsan Raghavan, 3/16/07, Washington Post)

U.S. troops are conducting security sweeps in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City for the first time in three years, part of a revamped plan to pacify the capital. Yet the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has not risen up to fight them, despite U.S. raids on militia members' homes and growing Sunni attacks on Shiites.

"Until now, our leader has ordered us to keep quiet," explained Ayad al-Khaby, a local official in Sadr's organization. "This is in order for the security plan to succeed."

After four years of hostility, Sadr and the Americans are cooperating uneasily as the United States and Iraq attempt to tame Baghdad's sectarian violence. American officials, who in recent months described Sadr's Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias as the biggest threat to Iraq's stability, now praise the Shiite cleric.

You can judge how worthless "expert" analysis of the Middle East is just by how long it's taken them to figure this one out.

Delicate negotiations to shift alliances (Seymour M. Hersh, March 17, 2007, The Australian)

IN the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis and the Bush administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, a US government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.

Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group.

(In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the US have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)

The third component was that the Bush administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shi'ite ascendance in the region. Fourth, the Saudi Government, with Washington's approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the Government of President Bashar al-Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad Government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.

It's smart to use the Sa'uds against their fellow Sunni, but their Wahabbism is the ultimate enemy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 16, 2007 8:57 AM

If Wahhabism is the ultimate enemy,( a point I agree with) how can we trust the likes of Bandar
and Turki, who screwed up the first Saudi outreach
project, which gave us Bin Laden, a pupil of one
of Turki's chief aide Adeeb, and Al Queda, and let them run the same plan against Iran, and hope
it will turn out well.

Posted by: narciso at March 16, 2007 10:50 PM

We couldn't, which is why all these measures target Sunnis, not Shi'a.

Posted by: oj at March 16, 2007 11:27 PM

their Wahabbism is the ultimate enemy, let Iranian Shiites fight Saudi Wahabbists.

Posted by: ic at March 17, 2007 1:16 AM