Friday, September 14, 2007

Job for All of Us

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

By Sabria S Jawhar

Despite the belligerent rhetoric that has escalated recently between the American and Iranian governments, Iran is likely to do exactly what Ahmadinejad promised: fill that vacuum once US troops begin to draw down. Every time Ahmadinejad opens his mouth, the Americans take the bait with now tiresome responses by claiming that Iranian weapons are killing American soldiers - although hard evidence remains lacking - or that Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology will put the Middle East "under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust." But if it's clear that Iran will do everything it can to protect its borders and interests and if that means helping its Shiite neighbors, then Ahmadinejad will certainly do his best to provide support. Ahmadinejad's boasts of filling a power vacuum and his pursuit of nuclear technology are not in the best interests of the region, although he suggested cooperation with "regional friends like Saudi Arabia." We also have to remember that Iran's clerics hold the real power so it remains to be seen just how Ahmadinejad will fill this void. In the end it will be up to the clerics whether to help Iraq.
But rather than listen to the hysterical rantings of President Bush, which do little to address these issues in a calm and deliberate manner, I prefer Arab League chief Amr Moussa's call for talks between Arab countries and Iran over Iraq.
"There should be a consensus between the Arabs and Iran over Iraq,"
Moussa said after a recent meeting of Arab diplomats. "Iran and the
Arabs should be on one side."
Let's face it, whether the Americans like it or not, Iran is poised to meddle in Iraq and it's up to Saudi Arabia and its neighbors to solve the problem since the United States lacks the will and expertise to get the job done. It will be up to us, not the US or Great Britain, to do all we can to avoid turning the Iraq war into a regional conflict. For one, Arabs must do everything possible to slow the race for nuclear technology and bring Iran into the same line of thinking.
Secondly, it's to our advantage to set aside the differences between Shiites and Sunnis to make Iraq a thriving and workable government. The bottom line is that if we don't step into the breach and solve these issues on a regional level, the United States will continue its presence with disastrous results.
President Bush keeps hammering the argument that to abandon Iraq now would mean that Iran would take over. This is a similar argument that Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon used to keep America in Vietnam.
If US troops withdrew from Vietnam the communists would seize control and create a domino effect that ultimately would allow China to gain influence throughout Asia. It never happened, but we are witnessing similar arguments today that Iraq could fall to Iran. Yes, it's possible. But unlike Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s and early ‘70s, Arab countries have the ability and foresight to bring Iran into the fold of regional neighborliness.
We've seen enough of the result of American intervention. Now it's time to clean up their mess. The US commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are expected to give Bush a progress report next week on the surge in Baghdad that will determine the future for U.S. troop deployments in Iraq. The report, I suspect, will not provide a bright picture. That means a longer occupation.
The time is now to assume control of our own future. It's unfortunate that Ahmadinejad has taken the lead role in offering help to Iraq although he has no concrete plan at the moment and his agenda is questionable. This is a job for all of us - from Egypt, Jordan and Syria to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and, yes, even Iran.
But above all for Iraqis themselves. The Iraqis should unite in a real coalition government that serves the interest of Iraq as a one nation without being influenced by any foreign factor or serving a specific faction, whether Sunni or Shiite.
All of us need be involved to build a peaceful coexistence in our region. And it must be now.

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