The U.S. is not the only country crafting the fate of Iraq (The Baker Commission’s report is set to be released a week from today). Today Reuters reports that Nawaf Obaid, a security adviser to the Saudi government, writing in the Washington Post said that the Saudi government has plans of their own. Obaid writes that if the U.S. begins to withdraw from Iraq, Saudi Arabia plans to protect the Sunni minority from “Iranian-baked shiite militias.” The Saudi options are three-fold, much like those of the Pentagon– although without all those clever names:
-providing “Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with” funding and arms.
-establishing Sunni brigades
-strangling “Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy.”
Throughout the Middle East, there is a well-founded fear that the blood of the escalating violence will spill over into the countries that border Iraq, creating even more instability in the region, so the Saudi’s interest in helping out is understandable. Although the influence of neighbors does not come without ulterior motives (nor, of course, does the U.S.’s). Liz Sly, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune put it quite well back in October when in response to federalizing Iraq, she said that “While more engagement by Iraq’s neighbors might help promote unity, there is also a risk that neighboring states will seek to pursue their own agendas and turn the country into a regional battleground.” I think it’s safe to say, as many have already done so, that the fear of civil war could soon be trumped by fears of a regional one.