Divide and Conquor

Great piece by Edward Luttwak. I think he is on to something.


Just as the Sunni threat to majority rule in Iraq is forcing Sciri to cooperate with the U.S., the prospect of a Shiite-dominated Iraq is forcing Sunni Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Jordan, to seek American help against the rising power of the Shiites. Some Sunnis viewed Iran with suspicion even when it was still under the conservative rule of the shah, in part because its very existence as the only Shiite state could inspire unrest among the oppressed Shiite populations of Arabia. More recently, the nearby Sunni Arab states have been increasingly worried by the military alliance between Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah of Lebanon. But now that a Shiite-ruled Iraq could add territorial contiguity to the alliance, forming a "Shiite crescent" extending all the way from Pakistan to the Mediterranean, it is not only the Sunnis of nearby Arabia that feel very seriously threatened. The entire order of Muslim orthodoxy is challenged by the expansion of heterodox Shiite rule.
Dont get your hopes up sunshine, everyone in the Islamic world cheered on Hezbollah last summer.

Only the puppet US-backed elites fear Iran, they know they would end up like Saddam at the hands of their own people without US support.
This whole Sunni v Shia thing is way overblown. As iv said before you have to make a distinction between these unelected regimes and their people.

A relatively recent survey revealed deep antipathy towards the Spams and Israel ahead of Iran. See an earlier thread of mine:-


Also im still of the opinion that for a tiny guerrilla army of several thousand men to keep one-third of Israel cowering in their bunkers for a month was quite an achievement.


War Hero
Luttwak's article is an fine example of wishful thinking and dodgy generalisations.

A couple of examples -

1. He claims that the Iranian-Syrian alliance is weak and could be fractured, largely because the Syrian leadership is Alawi and therefore not of the same brand of Shi'ism as the Iranians.

This is pure balderdash - the Iranians and Syrians have been cooperating militarily and politically for the past 25 years, and are not about to give each other up soon. Bashar al-Asad may have ideas distinct from his father's but there is precious little evidence for this and it is unclear how much he could reform if opposed by the existing elites in the security/military infrastructure (unless you think that his pals from the Syrian Computer Society can challenge their hegemony).

The fact that the al-Asads and their clique are Alawis has made not a jot of difference to co-operation with the Iranians in the past - in fact, the top clergy in Iran and Lebanon agreed to classify Alawis as a form of Shia Islam during the 1980s when previously it had been regarded as a heterodox, not to say, heretical offshoot. This shows how closely the two regimes were working together back then.

2. He also thinks that the Iraq war has had the benefit of driving the Sunni states into the arms of the US as a counter-balance to the rise of Shia power.

In fact the Sunni states now working with the US were never strongly opposed to American hegemony; Egypt, Jordan, Saudi, Morocco, Algeria, the Gulf states - all have relied on US financial and military aid for decades. Egypt and Oman have allowed UK forces to train in their territory over the last few years. The US has forces stationed in Qatar and until recently Saudi. There is close military cooperation with Jordan, Morocco and Algeria. Therefore the Americans have a long-standing relationship with these states for decades, notwithstanding any public criticism at times of tensions (1991, 2002-3). There is no new "Sunni-US alliance".

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