The Saudis are getting mad

Saudi-Syria relations have sunk to new lows, with a Saudi spokesman yesterday issuing a stinging rebuttal to Syria's vice president, Farouq al-Sharaa, who earlier this week had criticized the Saudis, describing them as "paralyzed." Here in Beirut, Syria's allies have been particularly relentless in heaping scorn on the Saudis of late.

The isolated Syrians have been trying to get their foot back into the mainstream of Arab politics, two-and-a-half years after the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafiq Hariri. But the Saudis aren't playing ball. They didn't attend a security conference held in Damascus just over a week ago, and have refused to coordinate regional policy within the context of a Syrian-Egyptian-Saudi triangle, as in the past.

Now the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassa has published a story (link in Arabic) listing the three conditions that Saudi King Abdullah imposed on Syrian President Bashar Assad at the Riyadh Arab League summit last March for Syria to break out of its isolation. Al-Seyassa is a notoriously anti-Syrian paper, and not always reliable. But it also happens to be an accurate mouthpiece for King Abdullah.

The three conditions were: non-intervention in domestic Lebanese affairs once and for all, and an end to incitement against the government of Prime Minister Fouad al-Siniora; an end to involvement in Palestinian affairs, the shaping of Hamas' policies, and the arming of the group; and a reduction in Syrian cooperation with Iran which has allowed Iran to set up bases on Syrian territory near the Lebanese and Iraqi borders.

The article went on to note that Abdullah set down his conditions in the presence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, as a witness.

The deterioration in Saudi-Syrian relations will have significant implications for American policy in the Middle East. First of all it will only make a regional consensus on Iraq more complicated, with the additional complicating factor that the Saudis now regard Syrian collaboration with Iran almost as an existential threat to their regime.

Second, it means that U.S. engagement of Syria or Iran, for all the brouhaha the idea has raised in Washington, will only further alarm the Saudis, making it more likely that they will continue to support and even probably escalate their backing for the Sunnis in Iraq.  

Third, it means that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will continue to fight tooth and nail against Syria and Iran (and Hezbollah) in Lebanon, meaning the country will remain a front line for regional animosities.

And fourth, it means that the Palestinian issue, precisely because it has become a Middle Eastern tennis ball between the Americans, Saudis, Syrians and Iranians, will remain as deadlocked as ever, regardless of how much assistance Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas receives from the international community. Where there is deadlock, there is also a tendency of states to abandon ship. If nothing happens on the Palestinian front, expect the Europeans to begin increasingly calling for a dialogue with Hamas, against the wishes of the Bush administration.  

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  • ||

    Violence and unrest to continue in the Mid East with no end in sight. Got it.

  • ||

    Iz zere any vey zey can boze loze?

    I don't know how Michael Young keeps this all straight. I'm not exactly the stereotypical clueless Yank who thinks the Middle East means Maryland, but I feel like a need a flow chart over here.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Hmm, if this is a best case scenario one wonders why the U.S. continues to poke its nose into middle eastern politics.

  • ||

    So we should leave the middle east and let it explode?

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Will it explode? Will the folks there eventually sort things out on their own? Will the future of the region be better as a result of such a sorting out or via constant U.S. intervention?

  • ||

    "So we should leave the middle east and let it explode ?"

    Yes. I don't see why my tax dollars need to be spent on the middle east.

  • Episiarch||

    So we should leave the middle east and let it explode?

    Why, yes. Yes we should. They need to get their shit sorted out eventually; why should we waste money and time staving this off?

  • Syloson of Samos||

    From one perspective one could argue that the Middle East is going to have to go through its own Nietzschean crisis just like the rest of the planet's human population.

  • ||

    So we should leave the middle east and let it explode?

    Should we drink lots of water and die of thirst?

    This sentiment, that our presence in the Middle East is a benign, soothing one, should have found its way to the compost bin in about 2004.

    For a couple months, I belonged to the Pottery Barn school of thought about Iraq, precisely because I thought we had a responsibility to maintain a decent order there. The problem with that thinking is that we can't impose such an order by force.

    We should have a policy of vigorous diplomatic engagement in the Middle East, and keep the threat of force in our back pocket, but we should not expect that the long-term presence of and American army mucking about in the region is going to anything but make things worse there.

  • Neocon||

    why should we waste money and time staving this off?

    Probably because of the cheap abundant petroleum.

  • ||

    خلي صديقك قريب و عدوك اقرب

  • ||

    "We should have a policy of vigorous diplomatic engagement in the Middle East, and keep the threat of force in our back pocket,"

    Hoo boy ... get ready for President Hilary Clinton's shiny, happy wars.

  • ||

    Sounds like the sentinent in the U.U. before WW II.'Let them sort it out,it doesn't effect us'Any major war in that area would cause problems for the world as a whole.I don't like the fact we are so involved.We can't count on Europe to help and Russia has it's own goals.I'm sure a crisis in this region that raises oil prices would suit the Kremlin just fine.

  • thoreau||

    I'm sure a crisis in this region that raises oil prices would suit the Kremlin just fine.

    So, Michael Pack, I assume you think the current policy encourages stability, peace, and low oil prices?

  • ||

    "If nothing happens on the Palestinian front, expect the Europeans to begin increasingly calling for a dialogue with Hamas, against the wishes of the Bush administration."

    Why would they call for us to open a dialog with Hamas?

    ...could it be because Hamas won an election?

    Was that supposed to happen? Was that part of the Plan?

    I don't understand how someone can argue for democracy on one hand and bemoan a dialog with Hamas on the other. Please explain.

  • rho||

    Almost any mention of WWII is an invocation of Godwin's Law by proxy.

    If we're so worried about oil prices, let's go in and take the goddamn oil. That's a helluva lot more doable than midwifing democracy in Iraq.

  • ||

    kwais, that font is really hard to read.

    SM,

    Shiny happy wars - you mean like the Oslo/Camp David/Wye River wars?

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Michael Pack,

    You could basically analogize any current region of conflict to 1939. Just like I can analogize the current American effort in Iraq to Napoleon's "Spanish Ulcer" or the second round of Athenian efforts in Sicily in the Peloponessian War.

  • ||

    No I don't much care for the current policy but leaving all together seems to be a bad option.I thought that once the Iraqis had a choice they would try to form a decent society.You say Hamas won an election,many tyrants have in the past.If the KKK won an election in this country would that make them a valid political party.It seems many have a much lower standad of conduct for these groups then for the U.S. goverment.

  • edna||

    I don't understand how someone can argue for democracy on one hand and bemoan a dialog with Hamas on the other. Please explain.

    democracy is a process, a tool. people can use a tool or process well or badly. if they use it well, they benefit. if they do not, they do not. if the people of the duchy of fenwick vote to "kill all the negroes," is the world to sit back and say, well, that's up to the fenwickians, they had an election, it must be honored?

  • ||

    kwais : خلي صديقك قريب و عدوك اقرب

    Let your friend and your enemy as soon.

  • ||

    I agree with the Samian--what's the point? If you look at our few diplomatic successes in the Middle East, most were 90% done before we got involved anyway. Just like Irish affluence made peace 10X more likely, not some guys happening to work out that great deal this time.

    We shouldn't be meddling in the Middle East to the extent that we are. I'm fine with responding to attacks and finishing up whatever we're involved in (I'm thinking more Afghanistan than Iraq), but we need to put the world on notice that we're tired of the whole mess. Let them work it out, or let Russia and Europe take over. Whatever.

  • thoreau||

    I'd be prepared to leave the Middle East alone in exchange for monthly tribute payments in the form of baklava.

  • iih||

    joe:

    That font is Arabic. It says "Be close to your friend, but even closer to your enemy."

  • ||

    What, the Arabs are fans of The Godfather? ☺

    thoreau,

    And a nice rug from Persia every now and then. With some pistachios.

  • ||

    Bull,a war in the middle east would effect us all.The war in Europe caused world wide conflict and we kept troops there for 50 years to make sure it didn't happen again through the Soviet Union.I am tired of every one blaming the U.S. for problems they themselves will not confront.Notice how ,when Iraq invaded Kuwait, how many countries turned to the U.S. in the fear Saudi Arabia was next?They called it a coalition but in truth it was a U.S. military operation.Thinking the next crisis won't involve us is wishful thinking.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Pro Libertate,

    Various lamb dishes and couscous would be nice as well.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Michael Pack,

    We've already have several wars in the middle east in the last few years.

  • thoreau||

    PL-

    We can't be greedy here. They'll view us as exploitive. If you want pistachios, ask for pistachio baklava.

    Me, I'll take the walnut baklava. Has a stronger flavor.

  • iih||

    edna:

    I will keep it short.

    If the fenwickians are capable of actually implementing their rhetoric, then the world should stop them and not just watch. If everyone knows that the fenwickians are absolutely incapable of implementing their rhetoric, then may be negotiating with them will result in their moderation.

    Now, as we discussed in a previous thread, Israel's military might, backed with the US and probably the Europeans (don't expect Europe to standby and watch Israel vanish), makes it impossible that Hamas implements any of its rhetoric. I am against the stupid rhetoric to wipe Israel off the map. It is wrong and is racist. But to you what is clearly nothing but propaganda to hold down the entire Palestinian dream of self-governance (with we agree with it or not) is a bit unfair.

  • iih||

    WalterBoswell:

    My translation is more accurate. If you are Arabic speaking, then you did poorly my friend :-)

  • ||

    Maybe I'm not following--I was quoting Young, who, I believe, is what most people think of when they think of a democracy hawk. ...someone who thinks our primary strategy should be to spread democracy and doesn't necessarily shy away from using guns to do it.

    And it seems contradictory, to argue that we should hold elections in these places, where we're so unpopular, and then ignore legitimately elected leaders.

    Personally, I understand communicating with Hamas better than I understand holding elections to secure its legitimacy. ...but if you're going to argue that the solution to much of this involves holding elections, then how can you argue that we should ignore the election results?

    It doesn't make any sense.

    So edna, you're just not going to deal with anybody over there until the right political party emerges, miraculously without popular support, and until then, every time the people vote for the leaders they really want, Terrorist Organization A or Terrorist Organization B, you're just not going to talk to anybody over there...

    ...but elections are the ultimate solution?!

  • iih||

    Syloson of Samos, Pro Libertate, thoreau:

    And don't forget my favorite Palestinian falafel, and humus, Turkish baba ghanoush, Lebanese/Syrian fatoush, and Egyptian (no one probably heard of this one) molokhiya... I love that stuff :-)

  • ||

    Here's another way attacking this, maybe from a slightly different angle.

    What's the purpose of not talking with terrorist organizations? Isn't it not to legitimize the organizations themselves, their leaders and especially their methods?

    In terms of legitimization, how would you compare talking to the United States to winning an election? Which one do you think legitimizes terrorist organizations more?

    Michael Young seems to think the Europeans may want us to talk to Hamas... Is that because, in their eyes, Hamas is the legi...

    I can't even bring myself to say it!

  • ||

    Pistachio baklava? What? I didn't know that the Iranians had broken the nut barrier. Wow, this is a day for celebration indeed. Alton Brown made a pistachio pesto on his nuts episode. I've got to try that one.

    iih,

    Let it be said, once and for all, that the best food on Earth comes from the Mediterranean.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Ken Shultz,

    If they stay in power long enough they are "legitimate." Sort of like how official recognition of the PRC occurred.

  • thoreau||

    PL-

    I don't like pistachio baklava, but some people seem to love it. For me, it tastes a bit "fruity", if that's the right word, while walnuts have a strong, slightly bitter taste.

    And I object to your statement that the best food on earth comes from the Mediterranean. The best food on earth comes from Thailand, with the Mediterranean being a very, very, VERY close runner-up.

  • iih||

    Ken Shultz:

    While I insist that I do not condone Hamas (I know edna may feel tempted to make such an accusation), here is an excellent assessment from Tony Karon:

    http://tonykaron.com/2007/06/20/the-8-fallacies-of-bushs-abbastan-plan/

  • iih||

    Pro Libertate:

    Let it be said, once and for all, that the best food on Earth comes from the Mediterranean.

    Oh yes sir indeed and of course, not to be ethnocentric, this includes Greek and Italian, too. God, I miss true Italian espresso (not the bland stuff at Starbucks) -- though you can get good stuff in Boston's North End.

  • ||

    Several wars?Where did that come from?Are you counting Afganastan as the middle east.I count 2,the Iraq war and the Israeli action against terrorist in Lebanon.

  • iih||

    Michael:

    Israeli action against terrorist in Lebanon.

    If the action is against terrorists in Lebanon, and they are really only in South Lebanon, then why destroy the entire country from far North to deep South, including much of Beirut? I think that was another screw-up, that culminated in more hate and further fueling the animosity.

  • ||

    "If they stay in power long enough they are "legitimate." Sort of like how official recognition of the PRC occurred."

    I suspect Hamas may make the elections legitimate in the eyes of its constituents, more so than the other way around. I suspect the same might be said for Sadr's bunch in Iraq, Hezbollah in some places...

    Legitimacy in the eyes of the world is another matter.

  • iih||

    Michael:

    My point being that both wars are major screw-ups.

  • ||

    thoreau,

    Thai is awesome (don't forget Vietnamese, either!), but nothing surpasses the food of the Mare Nostrum. Nothing. And that region's pinnacle is Italy.

    I have spoken.

  • ||

    Just to be clear, if jihadists ever threaten our access to Italian, Greek, etc. food. . .well, then, that means war.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    The best food on Earth comes from a lot of places.

  • iih||

    Pro Libertate:

    Just to be clear, if jihadists ever threaten our access to Italian, Greek, etc. food. . .well, then, that means war.

    On that we agree. The only acceptable and legitimate interventionist policy is when food is at stake. All else can be peacefully remidied.

  • thoreau||

    PL-

    I'll grant you this much: Olive oil is a strategic asset, and we must maintain a naval posture that ensures our continuing access to it.

  • ||

    Oh, alternative former P.L., it's okay to have a favorite. I like just about anything, but the greatest of the Mediterranean in cuisiniosity cannot be denied.

    thoreau: Malaysian is nice, too.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Pro Libertate,

    I guess I don't have a favorite. I have a series of favorites and they include various types of moles as well as foie gras.

  • ||

    GO TEAM ISRAEL!

    GO TEAM ARAB!

    GO TEAM ISRAEL!

    GO TEAM ARAB

    ARAB!
    ARAB!
    ARAB!

    ISRAEL!
    ISRAEL!
    ISRAEL!

    Thats pretty much it.

  • ||

    By moles, are you referring to Mexican? Which is also great, especially the real thing (the food I ate when in Cabo was excellent).

    I would've figured you for a French food connoisseur. Though you did say foie gras.

    Cesar,

    Good point. The Israelis completely lose to the Arabs on food.

  • ||

    Good point. The Israelis completely lose to the Arabs on food.

    I don't know, man. I really love me some bagels w/lox.

  • ||

    Michael Pack,

    Iraqis never had the choice. First we turned their country into a warzone, then we allowed thousands of al Qaeda free reign to slaughter Shittes and provoke a civil war. Not terribly good ground for democracy to take root.

    People like Ali Sistani, medieval homophobe that he is, spent three years trying hold that society together by the fingertips, and managed to hold back the Shiites despite mass murder after mass murder. But of course, he couldn't. No one could, anywhere, under those circumstances.

  • ||

    No blood for oil. Unless it can be mixed with balsamic vinegar and drizzled over field greens.

    Then maybe a little.

  • ||

    The key to understanding Jewish food is simple. If you eat it and like it, it came from somewhere else--Spain, Germany, Eastern Europe. If you eat it and hate it, it's traditional Jewish food. Frankly, I think that's the source of all the tension in the Middle East.

    Incidentally, I like lox and bagels, too. The lox came from Scandinavia; bagels are German (or maybe Polish). Cream cheese is American.

  • ||

    The key to understanding Jewish food is simple. If you eat it and like it, it came from somewhere else--Spain, Germany, Eastern Europe. If you eat it and hate it, it's traditional Jewish food. Frankly, I think that's the source of all the tension in the Middle East.

    No wonder the United States and Israel are so close!

  • ||

    By the way, it's a good thing Scottish and Jewish cuisine never merged.

    I'm just saying.

    Cesar,

    I was thinking the same thing. Perhaps all alliances are actually cuisine based. Hmmm. Anyway, we do have some indigenous food that's good. I think.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Pro Libertate,

    Yeah, moles from Mexico.

    I love French bistro food. Though I am not immune to the few rare occassions I've eaten true haute cuisine.

  • Rhywun||

    The best food I ever ate was in China. I guess "going to the source" probably applies to any regional cuisine.

  • Syloson of Samos||

    Rhywun,

    Speaking of China, time go have Dim Sum for lunch. :)

  • ||

    The Iraqis had a choice,just like the Gemans,Japanese and the people of Panamal after 1989.You just don't like the one they made and need to blame someone for their lack will.

  • e||

    Wait, I thought the situation in the Middle East was like 1945, there was still some dead enders killing our boys in Germany even though the country had surrendered. The "Wolf Pack" or something; even Condi was talking about it. Now Michael Pack is saying it's 1939. We're going backwards in time; pretty soon Maliki or Sistani will be assassinated and it will be like 1914 when that Archduke Franz guy got killed.

  • iih||

    e:

    Actually the backward analogy seems to work just right. It is 1914-1945 but backwards. Now I get it. I finally see what GWB was planning throughout -- oh, sly little Bush.

  • ||

    iih,

    molokhiya

    Don't leave us hanging, man! Tell us what it is!

  • ||

    Never mind I was spelling it wrong, I googled it. mucilaginous has never done much for me.

    You might take a crack at working on the wikipedia page. It's a little sparse.

  • edna||

    iih, you are remiss in not mentioning foul and that lebanese okra-and-tomato dish, the name of which i forget. and the strongest argument for israel occupying bekaa is the guarantee that musar will continue.

    in any event, you tried taking my hypothetical where i did not mean it to go- it was not meant as an analogy to israel, i was just illustrating the point that just because a political result is democratic, being democratic doesn't make it entitled to respect or approval by others. else all the negroes in alabama would be sstill be picking cotton for no wages.

  • ||

    I'm not saying it's 1939.I don't think Islamist terrorism is WW III like some nuts have said.Personally I thought 9/11 was the best shot they could hit us with.There now using the threat of terror to ramp up the war on drugs and immigration.Both are bogus in my veiw.Still we can't forget the Middle East is important.I hold the veiw that the people there hold the future in their hands.I see no reason for us to send billions to Egypt,billions to Israel and use our military to help countries that won't help themselves.I wish they would step up.

  • DannyK||

    The US position seems to consist of ignoring some key players and erratically backing everyone else that we're still talking to. Lebanese Sunnis, Israelis, Saudis, Jordanians, Iraqui Sunnis (this month) -- OK, give 'em the guns. Iranians, Syrians, Shiites -- doubleplus ungood (this month).

    Can anyone really believe that the US is a force for good, or a force for anything? We're more like this bizarre wild-card that pops up every couple years to shake up the chess board.

  • ||

    But it also happens to be an accurate mouthpiece for King Abdullah.

    Why would a Kuwaiti newpaper be "an accurate mouthpeice" for the Saudi king, when he has tons of Saudi newspapers at his disposal?

  • iih||

    edna:

    in any event, you tried taking my hypothetical where i did not mean it to go- it was not meant as an analogy to israel, i was just illustrating the point that just because a political result is democratic, being democratic doesn't make it entitled to respect or approval by others. else all the negroes in alabama would be sstill be picking cotton for no wages.

    I sincerely take it back then. I know we have many differences regarding I/P issue, but are we now friends? I actually think that this is very important. I have an ardent Israeli supporter for a friend (she is actually Jewish Canadian from Toronto). In the beginning it wasn't the smoothest of friendships. Only when we relaxed, discussed food, went scuba diving while on a business trip to Hawaii, that we became excellent friends. Eventually, both of us were willing to have a more rational discussion on the I/P issue.

  • iih||

    SugarFree:

    Sorry to keep you hanging.

    Molokhia is Egypt's national dish (at least informally). It is almost an everyday staple. It is a soup, best mixed with rice. It is tradionaly eaten with rabbit meat (sounds disgusting, I know, but it is very tender meat).

    Here is what I found on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molokhia

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_cuisine

    I do find Egyptian food very bland overall, that is why you do not find Egyptian restaurants as you would for Lebanese, Syrian, or lumped together in "Middle Eastern".

  • ||

    We're more like this bizarre wild-card that pops up every couple years to shake up the chess board.



    Yes, I'd say that's about right. I think someone took the Nuke the Moon idea a little too far. Don't mess with America--we're craaaazzzy!.

  • iih||

    MIchael:

    I hold the veiw that the people there hold the future in their hands.I see no reason for us to send billions to Egypt,billions to Israel and use our military to help countries that won't help themselves.I wish they would step up.

    The best course of action is not send a single penny over there. If they find that they to buy US weaponry, they have to buy it through the market as everyone else --not through subsidized, US government sponsored programs. The people over there will not step up because the people find absolutely no reason for the weapons sent to, say, Saudi Arabia. The government bought the weapons, US defense companies make a ton of money, US government officials keep their jobs though the support of lobbyists, Saudi officials pocket a tonne of commision money. The weapons you would ask? They either (1) end up collecting dust, or (2) are used to fend off Iran and fuel further conflict in the area, with subsequent further tensions and weapons sales. Finally, repeat the above ad infinitum. The average Saudi man on the street (and the Egyptian, the Jordanian, the Iraqi) they are not dumb sheep as some in the media wish Americans to believe. They are very aware of it. And they are unhappy about it. And, hence, that could be one reason why "they hate us"? And do not belittle the power of the people. It is just a matter of time -- look at the American Revolution.

    So, the wisest course of action for the US? (1) do not intervene in a destructive/violent fashion, (2) have an even hand in the P/I issue, (3) stop financial aide to all governments in the region (the money does not reach its intended target and bankrupts local economies and industries, and finally, (4) step up cultural exchanges and keep a good PR program.

  • ||

    iih : My translation is more accurate. If you are Arabic speaking, then you did poorly my friend :-)

    Google Arabic to English BETA. I meant to place a few question marks at the end. I had a feeling thee had to be more to it than that.

  • ||

    there, there I mean, à l'enfer avec ce clavier français. Or as Google Arabic to English BETA would say: الى الجحيم مع هذا الفرنسية لوحة المفاتيح

  • ||

    iih,I agree,U.S. aid does more harm than good.As you said it never gets to those who need it.

  • iih||

    WalterBoswell:

    Non, ce n'est pas très précis, mais c'est assez bon.

    (No, it is not very precise, but it is good enought)

    à l'enfer avec ce clavier français

    should be:

    الى الجحيم مع هذه لوحة المفاتيح الفرنسية

    Note the flipping of لوحة المفاتيح and الفرنسية
    and it is هذه (female form of "this" -- yes a keyboard is female in Arabic, and don't ask me why) and not هذا (which is "male" for "this").

    This is hilarious though.

  • iih||

    Actually it should be:


    الى الجحيم مع لوحة المفاتيح الفرنسية هذه

    Google is probably transliterating on a word by word basis-- i.e., it is dumb.

  • iih||

    I should mention that what attracted me most to Arabic grammar is that, unlike English or, worse, French, it is very systematic. It is very algebraic and mathematical. That does not mean that there are a lot of rules, in fact the beauty is that there are a finite set of rules from which everything else flows. It is a beautiful language, and this is not just blind bias. Its prose is the most beautiful one can find -- if one understands it.

    Here is something I found on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_language

    And this is quite interesting. You'd never guess how many "English" words are actually "Arabic":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Arabic_loanwords_in_English


    I always challenged my non-Arabic speaking friends that almost every two pages in the Oxford dictionary (which lists the source of an English word), one will find at least one word that has its roots in Arabic.

  • ||

    I knew that it Arabic script by the way. In some altenate universe, my comment was humorous.

  • ||

    Michael Pack,

    The Iraqis had a choice,just like the Gemans,Japanese and the people of Panamal after 1989.You just don't like the one they made and need to blame someone for their lack will.

    Remind me again, how many German Protestants were slaughtered by foreign Catholic terrorists in a deliberate, years-long campaign to provoke a civil war between Protestants and Catholics?

    Oh, right, zero.

  • iih||

    joe:

    And it really was humorous :-) The whole thing is funny, especially my exchange with WalterBoswell, I think.

  • ||

    Note to self: Arab-American and Irish-American humor have very little overlap.

    ;-)

  • iih||

    joe: :-)))) Well at least not yet -- you never know.

  • ||

    Joe,so whose fault is it their killing each other?

  • iih||

    Michael:

    I am not answering on joe's behalf, but here is my view.

    The US is not responsible for the sunni/shia and other tensions in Iraq. The real reasons go back a few hundred years. The reason I blame the US is that whatever it is that used to stop that country from exploding into endless chaos has been removed by a very poorly executed invasion without any post-invasion plan. That is not to say that Saddam was good. He was BAD. The worst of all Arab leaders probably. However, among the things that he did or had to do, and for his own self-preservation, was to control a very volatile population with different religious views. The US (1) did not realize this volatility before the invasion, and (2) was not able to control and reconcile the volatile society after the invasion.

  • ||

    You know, I'm not so sure that this whole mess isn't good for Iraq in the long run; I just don't see the value added to our presence. In the end, they've got to want stability, etc. Will they work things out faster or slower with us there? I think the latter.

    We're not really to blame for Iraq, because this likely would've happened down the road, anyway. At least there's a chance something better than Hussein may come of this. Still, we're causing ourselves a lot of trouble hanging around and playing referee.

  • edna||

    but are we now friends?

    i dunno, are you going to buy me dinner? ;-)

  • iih||

    edna:

    A virtual dinner for virtual friends? ;-)

  • Syloson of Samos||

    ...expect the Europeans to begin increasingly calling for a dialogue with Hamas, against the wishes of the Bush administration.

    You know, much of the progress in Northern Ireland was due in large part to public and private dialogue between the various parties.

  • ||

    But, but, dialogue=appeasement=Munich!!!

  • iih||

    Cesar:

    Dialogue is not the same as appeasement. As Syloson mentions, Northern Ireland was mostly dialogue and not appeasement.

  • ||

    I know iih I was being sarcastic. Just a preemption before the bedwetters said something similar.

  • iih||

    Cesar:

    That was what I thought. I found it strange coming from you ;-)

  • ||

    "The three conditions were: non-intervention in domestic Lebanese affairs once and for al"

    Wait, this would be the Saudis saying this? The Saudis who spend billions to export violent fundamentalist Wahhabism around the world?

  • ||

    edna wrote: "else all the negroes in alabama would be sstill be picking cotton for no wages."

    Ah, but that's different because they weren't allowed to vote when that system was set up in the US, and not for a long time after.

    But if they *were* all allowed to vote, and in a free and fair election, voted for such a system?

    Isn't it possible that they know what they're doing, have weighed cost and benefit, and are making an educated decision as far as what is in their best interest?

    What if their options were only the KKK, *or* a corrupt, incompetent regime they'd already been subjected to for years and which in practice wasn't actually all that much better than the KKK?

    And remember, the thing about someone voting for 'the KKK', is that there's always the _possibility_ that the campaign rhetoric was exaggerated, and that once they gain office they'll act like all other politicians and mellow in order to retain office and the corrupt perks that come with it.

    Now, seeing as how I am fortunate enough to live in the US, I am not at the point of, say, a Palestinian given the 'choice' of voting for Fatah or Hamas, so I may never be faced with having to vote for a 'KKK' party.

    But if, in 2008, it were only Bush/Cheney running against some intelligent, competent, moderate Klansmen... I can't say for sure I wouldn't vote for the Klansmen to make sure Bush/Cheney didn't get another chance to Hot Karl the planet.

  • ||

    Michael Pack,

    Joe,so whose fault is it their killing each other?

    Don't be such a collectivist. "They" are not killing "each other." Certain groups of individuals are killing other individuals.

    At the most basic level, the Iraqi Sunni indivieduals and Iraqi Shiite individuals are responsible for the killings they each carry out. In a larger sense, these groups are going after each other to get revenge for earlier rounds of killing, and to attempt to preempt future rounds agains their own communities. This political situation exists because al Qaeda sent thousands of jihadists in Iraq to carry out a campaign of terrorist provocation, in a successful attempt to provoke such a civil war.

    And we opened the door and let them in.

  • ||

    Abandoning ship because of a deadlocked tennis ball?

  • ||

    I am tired of spending money to solve a problem that is thousands or years old.
    We have better places to spend our money, Right at HOME.
    Let them fight it out, perhaps one will be stupid enough to Attack Israel.
    Any way after the dust settles then let's see how the Middle East looks.
    They have enough weapons to solve our problems.

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