Yesterday, the Bush administration announced that they would give 20 billion dollars worth of arms to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. According to the party line this is a viable attempt to bolster our relationships in the Middle East. This deal of course was opposed by Israel so to accompany the deal with the Gulf States the U.S. has increased military aid to Israel by 43%, adding 9.1 billion more dollars. Bush believes that heavily arming the Sunni Saudi Arabia will help the U.S. isolate Iran, a county supportive of the Shiite sect. This move is more of the same political posturing that will only further inflame the violence in Iraq and in the Middle Eat as a whole.
My first question is why are we friends with Saudi Arabia? Human rights violations alone should be enough to consider it a difficult state. But there is more. Saudi Arabia has been a negative influence on our occupation in many of the same ways that the President accuses Iran. A New York Times article recently pointed to U.S. intelligence which said, “Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.” Adding to this a senior administration official says he has seen evidence that Saudi Arabia is providing financial support to opponents of Mr. Nuri al-Maliki. Despite this the Bush administration continues to point only to Iran and Syria as counter productive to peace in the region.
My second question – how is giving weapons to sworn enemies going to promote peaceful dialogue? Israeli military forces, disabled after their loss last summer to Hezbollah, now see an opportunity to reassert their military influence in the region. Iran sees another example of the U.S. destabilizing the region to our own advantage – this will only further inflame radical groups in Iran and all over the Middle East. Even if this military power is only a perception at this point it emboldens one state to try to undermine another.
My third question – will we as citizens let our government use our cries for peace to further promote violence? The U.S., for its part, is set on political posturing and weapons proliferation – perhaps in an attempt to extract ourselves from Iraq and let the larger states in the region fight for control. I am sure that Bush sees this as an opportunity to show his popularity with some states in the Middle East and a way to boost the U.S. economy. Our leadership in this deal will bring nothing but blood.
Despite the political players and their influence on our occupation of Iraq proliferating weapons will never foster peace. This is a basic principle. The only way to engage the regional players in Iraq is through conflict resolution dialogue. A cold or hot war with Iran will be devastating – our actions in the past week will do nothing but promote that war.