Monday, August 27, 2007

US in ‘back to future’ mode

by David Ignatius from The Washington Post

The Bush Administration. beyond the daily temperature readings about the progress of the US troop surge in Baghdad, is making a subtle but important shift in its strategy for the Middle East – establishing containment of Iranian power in the region as a top American priority. A simple shorthand for this approach might be “back to the future,” for it is strikingly reminiscent of American strategy during the 1980s after the Iranian revolution. The cornerstone is a political-military alliance with the dominant Sunni Arab powers – especially Saudi Arabia ... “The message to Iran is, we’re still powerful, we protect our friends, we’re not going away,” explains a senior State Department official ... In “back to the future” mode, the name being mentioned these days is Ayad Allawi, a former Baathist who was interim prime minister and has strong support among Sunnis, even though he’s a secular Shi’ite. Allawi has bundles of money now to help buy political support, but it comes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, rather than the US The administration will continue to “turn up the heat” on Iran, says the State Department official.

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