The weekend’s events in Iraq make it clear that the buzz of supposedly good news that mesmerized press and pundits after the UN vote and the G8 meeting has evaporated. Two deputy ministers killed in two days, a wave of car bombings, more dead Americans, and Muqtada Sadr forming a political party, right out in the open—not a pretty picture.
So let’s turn our attention to Iraq’s two neighbors, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Before the war in Iraq, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Akins, told me that by invading Iraq the Bush administration would accelerate the spread of Al Qaeda-style movements in Saudi Arabia, and it’s happening. The country is said to be in a state of incipient civil war, and the royal family is apparently unable to stem the spread of the bin Ladenite poison. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States has called on the kingdom to conduct an all-out war against the terrorists, but it could be too little, too late. Make no mistake, however: if Saudi Arabia falls to radicals, U.S. forces will occupy that country’s oil fields faster than you can say “imperialism.” And if that happens, it will be Phase 2 of the neocons’ expanded plans for the Middle East: first topple Saddam and “flatten Iraq,” as another former ambassador to Saudi Arabia described the essence of the neocon Iraq strategy, and then move on to Saudi Arabia.
“I’ve stopped warning that bin Laden might take over Saudi Arabia,” Akins told me last year. “I think that’s exactly what they want.” And then American forces would move in. No U.S. government could tolerate the collapse of Saudi Arabia. Oil experts are already pointing out that sources of oil outside Saudi Arabia and Iraq are rapidly being drained, meaning that those two countries are basically the only two sources of expanded future supply. Period.
Next, Iran: The New York Times magazine on Sunday screamed: ‘Is Iran Going Nuclear?’ Today’s Wall Street Journal attacks the Bush administration for going soft on Iran, joining Europe is wringing its hands over Iran’s nuclear research. The neocons are maintaining their steady drumbeat of war talk over Iran, and at a recent American Enterprise Institute session one speaker suggested that Israel might strike first, blowing away Iran’s reactors or research centers. The Iranians are said to be aware that if Bush is re-elected, they are a likely target for getting the Saddam Treatment, and they’re planning accordingly.
Maybe Saudi Arabia can quiet the insurgency; maybe Iran will make a deal over its nuclear program and play nice in Iraq, where its forces have built up enormous ability to sway Iraq’s future. But if not, we could be in for a long, hot summer—not only in Iraq, but Saudi Arabia and Iran, too.