Saturday, February 24, 2007


Gulf stands on brink of all-out war

Saudis say they’ll fight for their fellow Sunnis if the coalition forces quit Iraq, says robert fox

While the Bush administration remains locked in argument with the consiglieri of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group about what to do in Iraq, events on the ground are now moving ahead of them.

There is now every chance that civil war could turn into a major regional war as the Saudis and Jordanians threaten to come in on the side of the Sunni community, and the Shia militias in turn look to Tehran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for backing.

"The intervention of Saudi Arabia and Jordan is now the most dangerous possibility facing us," a British commander told me, on condition of anonymity.

"We can't go, and we can't stay in the present posture. We've got to find a way of keeping a presence, but without it becoming the main problem."

‘Since America came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited,’ says the Saudi ambassador to the US

The main proposals of the Baker-Hamilton report are seen as unrealistic by force commanders on the ground in Iraq. The plan is for American forces to pull back next year and assume primarily an oversight and training role with the Iraqi army, national guard and police.

The bulk of US forces would go home by April 2008. The British would move faster, handing back Maysan province to the Iraqis next January and Basra in April. By July 2007, Britain would have only 2,000 service personnel in Iraq, at most.

But US commanders, led by General John Abizaid of US Central Command, do not believe the Iraqi army will be ready to run anything much in terms of security for years to come.

This is what the Saudis realise too. And they have given warning to the US and Britain that if they make a quick exit by April 2008, they and their allies will have no choice but to enter Iraq to help their co-religionists, the Sunni Arabs.

Until now the Saudis have only hinted at

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