Wednesday, October 10, 2007

As Mideast realigns, US leans Sunni

by Howard LaFranchi from The Christian Science Monitor

Having paved the way for Iraq's Shiites to take power, Martin Indyk - former US diplomat now at the Brookings Institution in Washington - says, "We find ourselves in a situation where that plays to Iran's advantage and to the disadvantage of our erstwhile Sunni Arab allies in the Arab world." The result of this belated realization, Mr. Indyk says, is that "we are adjusting ourselves to the point where we line up with the Sunnis against the Shias in this broader sectarian divide." ... It is in that context that some experts like Brookings's Indyk see at least part of the US motivation for arming some of the same Sunni tribesmen, in places like Anbar, whose doors US troops were kicking down not so long ago. Jon Alterman director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Saudi Arabia is "using sectarian proxies to fight a national war in Iraq," but he says it does not follow that the US is working with Anbar's Sunnis out of sectarian motivations.

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