Thursday, November 30, 2006

Saudis threaten the West

Jane writes:
Am forwarding an article that might be of interest to NCF members . . .

Iraq - important comments by Nawaif Obaid, security advisor to Prince Turki, arguing that if the US leaves Iraq 'prematurely' the Saudis might consider stepping up their intervention to counter the influence of Iran - possibly including establishing Sunni militias 'to combat the Iranian-backed militias'. (His other suggestion that Saudi might up oil production in order to lower the oil price, thus hurting Iran, seems pretty implausible given that it would hurt all the world's other oil producers including all Saudi Arabia's neighbours)

"Just a few months ago it was unthinkable that President Bush would prematurely withdraw a significant number of American troops from Iraq. But it seems possible today, and therefore the Saudi leadership is preparing to substantially revise its Iraq policy. Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance -- funding, arms and logistical support -- that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.

Another possibility includes the establishment of new Sunni brigades to combat the Iranian-backed militias. Finally, Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending. But it would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today's high prices. The result would be to limit Tehran's ability to continue funneling hundreds of millions each year to Shiite militias in Iraq and elsewhere."


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