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September 23, 2005

An Actual Serious Question

Here's something from a Times of London story about Iran's growing power in Iraq:

Iraqi and British officials interviewed this week said Iran’s growing influence is being felt from Basra in the south to Baghdad in the north, where Iranians are blamed for stoking sectarian tension, undermining the coalition and trying to create a breakaway Islamic state in southern Iraq.

Responding to the clashes in Basra this week, Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, accused Tehran of being “interested”, “involved” and “not helpful”.

Tougher language is being heard in the Arab world, where Iran has been a foe from the time of the Persians. Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi Foreign Minister, said: “We fought a war together to keep Iran out of Iraq after Iraq was driven out of Kuwait. Now we are handing the whole country over to Iran without reason.”

Maybe al-Faisal was misquoted. But if not, here's a real, serious question: what is he talking about?

Ie, what "war" is he referring to? After the Gulf War in 1991, Saddam of course viciously put down the Shiites in southern Iraq. Was there some involvement in this by Saudi Arabia (or America) beyond just sitting back and watching it happen?

Posted at September 23, 2005 04:38 PM | TrackBack

Jonathan, you do read well! That very interesting quote was not in the NYT article on the prince's comments, as I remember.

Posted by: pulaski at September 23, 2005 05:13 PM

Thanks! I may sometimes forget to put my shoes on the morning, but I do believe I read well. If all I had to do was READ about putting my shoes on, I'd be in great shape.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 25, 2005 12:51 PM

The most charitable assumption is that he meant 'before' rather than 'after'. Otherwise I can't make sense of it. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia were both arming the Kurds and Shi'a in 1992.

Posted by: saurabh at September 26, 2005 01:12 PM

Yes, it—seemingly—only makes sense with "before." But if that's what he meant, it's an extremely weird way to phrase the whole thing.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 26, 2005 02:11 PM

Two possibilities:

(1) Faisal misspoke.

(2) Faisal was attempting to pressure Bush to change his policy in Iraq by subtly threatening to expose details of some sort of anti-Shiite US/Saudi operation in Iraq in 1991.

I'd say, 80% likelihood for possibility (1), 20% for (2).

Then there's always the third possibility - that there is no external reality and that the "world" is in fact a hallucination conjured up in the disembodied brain of the late Sen. Ernest Kefauver, carefully preserved in a secret medical lab at Walter Reed Medical Center. Naturally, thanks to Bush administration budget cuts the program will be phased out by the end of 2006.

Posted by: Seth Ackerman at September 26, 2005 11:30 PM

"The most charitable assumption is that he meant 'before' rather than 'after'. Otherwise I can't make sense of it. The U.S. and Saudi Arabia were both arming the Kurds and Shi'a in 1992." -- Ah no. Big no. Very very big NO. Their uprising failed expressly because they did not have arms [that little footnote in the peace treaty allowing the Iraqis to fly armed helicopters didn't help them either], on several consecutive occasions different groups, both local villagers & deserted military, and ask for help, even if it was just the arms & ammunition taken confiscated from Saddams army, and they were denied and sent back.

Posted by: LamontCranston at September 28, 2005 08:00 PM

Argh! That should say ", came to the border and asked for help,".

Posted by: LamontCranston at September 28, 2005 08:08 PM