Counter-Terrorism: Saudi Arabia's Iraqi King

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October 31, 2006: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, or some of his senior advisors, are apparently willing to support the notion of federal Iraq, or possibly even a division of the country into three virtually independent entities, one each for Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shia Arabs. This has been anathema to Sunni community in the region, of which the king is the most prominent member. But Abdullah apparently believes it is not possible to have stability in Iraq any time soon, without this sort of a solution. The only alternative, in his view, is that, sooner or later, the Iraqi Shia will crush the Sunni, perhaps even expel most of then, and there will a Shia-dominated state anyway. This would be bad for Saudi Arabia, which has a restless Shia minority, concentrated in the oil-rich eastern parts of the kingdom. As Abdullah's mother was a member of one of the most powerful Sunni tribes in Iraq, he may be in a position to sell the idea to the Iraqi Sunnis.

Saudi Arabia was always rather tolerant of Saddam Hussein running Iraq, because Saddam was seen as capable of keeping the Iranians in check. When Saddam was overthrown in 2003, the Saudis were dismayed that the Iraqi Sunnis kept on fighting, and joined forces with al Qaeda (which began with the goal of destroying the Saudi monarchy.) But now most Iraqi Sunnis have accepted that a comeback is unlikely. However, the hardcore Iraqi Sunnis are strong enough to keep the killing going. And the Iraqi Shia vengeance attacks have been increasing, along with the possibility that over a million Iraqi Sunnis will flee and seek refuge in Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi Sunnis know that the mother of the Saudi king is an Iraqi. So now the Saudis are hustling to cool things down in Iraq, by any means necessary.

 


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