Thursday, January 10, 2008

Will Bush find Gulf takers for war with Iran?



January 2008 sees a Bush visit to the Middle east.

Bush and Israel hope to force the Saudis and their allies to join them against Iran.

The Saudis and their allies would prefer peace.

According to Gerd Nonneman, Professor of Arab Gulf Studies at Exeter University ( ANALYSIS-Gulf Arabs chart delicate course between Iran, US ):

"The royal families in the Gulf are looking at the Bush visit with slightly weary resignation and perhaps a vain hope of making a case that they absolutely need the Palestinian-Israeli peace process to work ... and on the Iran issue," said Gerd Nonneman, Professor of Arab Gulf Studies at Exeter University.

"On the one hand they want a joint diplomatic strategy to avoid a nuclear-armed Iran but also they are saying we think we can engage Iran more effectively. We think we can take the sting out of this by engaging with Iran."

Saudi Arabia said on 9 January 2007 that it was determined to keep good relations with Iran despite U.S. President George W. Bush's efforts to rally Gulf Arab allies to contain Iran. (Saudi defends Iran links ahead of Bush visit)

Lydia Georgi, at Middle East Online, 7 January 2007 (Will Bush find Gulf takers for war with Iran? ), suggests that Bush will not win any support for military action against Iran.

"It might not spell the end of Iran as a military power, but merely spark Iranian reactions against Gulf states which are more than these countries can take," Kuwait's Ayed al-Manna said.

Lydia Georgi points out that the USA "rode roughshod over the Gulf states' opposition to its 2003 invasion of Iraq."

Georgi explains that the USA has strong military links to the Gulf monarchies:

1. The Gulf monarchies are major buyers of US weapons.

2. Kuwait hosts some 15,000 US troops and served as a launchpad for the Iraq invasion.

3. Bahrain is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Georgi writes: "Distrust of US policy among many ordinary people in the Gulf seems to have extended even to Kuwait...

Kuwaitis are worried that Bush might exert pressure on Gulf states "to win their support for a military strike against Iran," which would "badly affect" the region's economy, Kuwaiti health ministry employee Sami al-Mani said.

Columnist Iman Kurdi wrote in the Saudi daily Arab News that while a US-Iranian showdown has so far been averted, Bush's "blood lust" means that he may yet choose to "go out (from office in a year's time) on a bang."

Will Bush find Gulf takers for war with Iran?

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