Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Arab Mukhabarat Confab: Syria Wallflower

Arab intelligence agencies are trying to come up with a plan to salvage the remains of Iraq when it plunges into civil war. Syria was not invited. Why? Because Syria is part of the problem - Syria and Iran that is - according to an AP article. Al-Manar TV, Hizbullah's channel, has announced that Syria is undeterred. "Syria is offering a new initiative to contain the Iraqi crisis."

The first goal is to set a timetable for the withdrawal of occupation forces in Iraq, the 2nd to include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran along with Syria in helping stop the violence, and 3rd support the political process and help it succeed.
The Sunni - Shi'a divide finds its way into the broader Arab mukhabarat. Iran has also spoken out. Writing in the Turkish press, the Iranian ambassador to Ankara urged Turkey, Iran and Syria to form a joint policy on the Kurdish issue, saying that if they did not, “the US will carve pieces from us for a Kurdish state.” Turkey, it seems, will be the star to both the Shiite and Sunni crescents - lucky Turks.

Arab diplomats: Mideast nations holding secret talks on Iraq
By The Associated Press

Top intelligence officers from several Arab countries and Turkey have been meeting secretly to coordinate their governments' strategies in case civil war erupts in Iraq and in an attempt to block Iran's interference in the war-torn nation, Arab diplomats said Tuesday.

The four diplomats said intelligence chiefs from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and non-Arab Turkey held a series of meetings over the last few weeks to assess the situation in Iraq and work out plans to avoid any regional backlash that may result from sectarian conflict in Iraq.

The diplomats in several Middle Eastern capitals, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Iran and Syria have been excluded from the talks.

"They are part of the problem, not of the solution," said one diplomat whose country is involved in the talks.

He said the officials are focusing on the proposed U.S.-Iranian dialogue and the implications on Arabs and Turkey of any "American-Iranian deal."

Reports in the Arab press have suggested that any agreement between Washington and Tehran will be at the expense of Arabs.

On Monday, an Iranian diplomat in Baghdad said the U.S.-Iranian contacts will be initiated in the Iraqi capital but he did not say when.

Arab nations, mostly Sunni and traditionally suspicious of Iran, are deeply concerned about what they see as Iran's growing influence in Iraq. Turkey, also a key Sunni Muslim nation, is worried about Iraq's split into sectarian and ethnic entities that will give rise to Kurdish ambitions for independence.

Several Arab leaders have voiced concerns about possible Shiite domination of Iraq and their alliance with Iran.

Last year, Jordan's King Abdullah II accused Shiite-dominated Iran of trying to influence events in Iraq. He warned that Iran was seeking to create "a Shiite crescent" that would disrupt the balance of power in the region.

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal made similar warnings.

Before Iraqis voted on their new constitution last year, both Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa and Abdul Rahman al-Attiya, head of the Gulf Cooperation Council, lobbied to include a clear reference about Iraq's "Arab identity" in the document.

Elections held in January produced a parliament dominated by Shiites and Kurds, and a ruling coalition by both groups is bound to have close ties to Persian and Shiite Iran.

There is little doubt that sidelining the Sunnis would vastly increase Iran's influence in Iraq and the whole region - anathema for Sunni Arabs and a nightmare for many Washington policy-makers.

At least one meeting of the intelligence chiefs was held in Cairo in late March, shortly after the U.S. administration said it wanted to open contacts with Tehran about Iraq, the diplomats said.

They said further meetings are planned, including at least one in Cairo this month to finalize the strategy.

Government officials in Egypt and Jordan declined to answer questions on the meetings.

On Tuesday, the pro-Damascus Lebanese paper As-Safir reported that Syria is launching its own initiative to "contain the crisis in Iraq."

"The initiative is aimed at containing the Iraqi deadlock in a way that will allow both Arabs and Iran to meet on common interests," according to As-Safir, which also reported that Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa was taking charge of the initiative.

Since the ousting of Saddam Hussein three years ago, officials from Iraq's neighbors have held scores of meetings on Iraq but the discussions have not yielded concrete efforts to help restoring stability to the beleaguered nation.

The Arab League is planning a conference in Baghdad in June to try to reconcile the Iraqi factions. In a similar conference in Cairo last November, Iraqi Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni leaders failed to end the rift in a meeting marred by differences between participants.

Last week, at an Arab summit in Sudan, interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari accused Arab nations of hoping for the failure of Iraq's new government. He said Arab nations only had themselves to blame for Iran's influence in Iraq because they had failed to play a role in Iraq.

Later the summit issued a final statement saying that Arabs should be party in any talks about Iraq's future.

On Tuesday, Prince Saud said the League is planning a meeting on Iraq. He did not say when the meeting would be held nor who is participating.


At 4/05/2006 01:31:00 AM, Blogger Vox Populi - Agent Provocateur said...

The latest elections resulted into 92% of the vote going to sectarian/ethnical parties. The inter-sectarian parties (that is, Allawi and the communists) only got 7% of the vote. Is a country like Iraq, where only 7% of the population is willing to vote for a cross-sectarian party, viable? I guess not.

I think that the recent events showed that the Iraqis clearly don't want to live with each other. Like a lot of Arab countries, Iraq is a multi-national artificial state, and you can't force people who don't like each other to live together - or to be more exact you can't do it in a democratical frame. I think it's time to think about partitioning Iraq.

At 4/05/2006 03:56:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 4/05/2006 04:02:00 PM, Blogger EHSANI2 said...

“The finance ministry has inherited an entirely empty treasury in addition to the debts of the ministry and the government in general,” Palestinian Prime minister Hania said today. He further stated to his cabinet that his government has run out of cash and is trying to come up with funds from elsewhere to pay its 140,000 government employees. He blamed it partly on Israel’s refusal to transfer about $50 million in taxes and customs fees it collects on behalf of the authority. Israel says that the authority is under the control of Hamas that Hania represents, hence they will not transfer the funds. The U.S. and the EU have also threatened to cut off aid unless the movement renounces violence and abides by the peace agreements. Hania in the meantime agreed not to get paid till the budget crisis is resolved and the rest of the civil service gets their salaries. The World Bank in the meantime warned that the Palestinian economy will enter a “deep depression” if Israel imposes trade and labor sanctions and foreign governments reduce financial aid.

So, the much-heralded new leadership of the Palestinians is technically bankrupt. S. Arabia and Iran have “pledged” to help Hamas but thus far not a single government employee can get paid.

This sad story is a microcosm of the state of affairs of the Arab world today. We use big words and slogans that we will fight and destroy the enemy while the financial reality is that the movement is bankrupt. Dubai and the GCC countries construct endless billion dollar buildings by the day. Emaar invests Billions in Syria, Morocco and Turkey. In the meantime, one decision by Israel not to transfer a mere $50 million and the entire Palestinian government has technically declared bankruptcy.

At 4/05/2006 08:46:00 PM, Blogger norman said...

That is why Arab gov in the gulf and Saudi arabia can not be trusted and that explain the reason for Hams win,the coruption of Arafat and his cronies in the Palestenian authority.


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