President Bush Has Managed to Divide and Conquer the Middle East

[Wall Street Journal] Edward N. Luttwak - The ancient antipathy between Sunni and Shiite has become a dynamic conflict, not just within Iraq but across the Middle East, and key protagonists on each side seek the support of American power. On Dec. 4, 2006, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of Iraq's largest political party, the son of an ayatollah, and himself a lifelong militant cleric, went to the White House to plead his case with President Bush. The best ally of the U.S. in Iraq is Hakim's party, the SCIRI: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. At the same time, the prospect of a Shiite-dominated Iraq is forcing Sunni Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Jordan, to seek American help against the rising power of the Shiites. Americans have no interest in the secular-sectarian quarrel, but there is a very real convergence of interests with the Sunni Arab states because Iran is the main enemy for both. The Iraq war has indeed brought into existence a New Middle East, in which Arab Sunnis can no longer gleefully disregard American interests because they need help against the looming threat of Shiite supremacy. The writer is a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

2007-01-15 01:00:00

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