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Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Saudi minister of foreign affairs is usually uneasily provoked, but it seems that Iranian infiltration into southern Iraq has now become intolerable. This infiltration actually menaces with the balance of powers in the area, dragging the whole region into war in which they and superpowers are likely to be involved for another 20 years.

Let me remind Prince Saud that the Iranian presence was merely a result of the absence of balanced Arab states from the Iraqi arena ever since the collapse of Saddam Hussein”s regime. For two years now, Saudi Arabia and Egypt had refrained from interfering in Iraqi affairs especially considering the presence of American troops in Iraq. Due to the drastic downfall of the former regime, a vacuum was created. In fact, it was expected that Iran would introduce itself to its neighbor after realizing the great religious importance attached to Iraq as well as its global oil importance. This Iranian infatuation with Iraq was paralleled with a Gulf reserve and an Egyptian refrain, ending with the miserable status quo in Iraq.

With deep regret, Arabs concerned with the Iraqi affair are consumed by the American occupation as its main issue with no consideration for the fact that the American forces may evacuate at any point during the next three years. They do not think that if the American troops leave Iraqi soil, then this will automatically lead to an Iranian hegemony over Iraq, as it is Iraq”s most influential neighbor. Also, the persistence of the American troops will add extremist Shiites to its list of confrontations.

Iran is committing a major error in its attempt to dominate important areas of Iraq and promoting the idea of secessionism or federal division, as this will lead to further conflict. It is very important to differentiate between extremist Sunnis that oppose the idea of federalism and the wise call for reasonable federalism.

The concept of federalism is not as harmful as extremist Sunnis claim. Attaching all Iraqi affairs to central Baghdad is an impractical policy and against the global trend to mitigate bureaucracy and activate the autonomy of each region. Positive federalism is reflected in the division of Iraq into 18 governorates that will congregate through parliamentary representation, which occurred recently.

Federalism will allow privacy for Iraqi governorates without threatening either its unity or its strength. It will also grant the majority with the most authority in parliament as well as the rights of the minorities. Yet negative federalism, which suggests the presence of three governorates or regions, is a dangerous division for a country that will transform into querulous states for many years to come.

These years of the Iraqi crises requires that none of its neighbors rush to support neither Sunni nor Shiite extremists, or to support warmongers and most importantly not to be involved in a war of statements that may lead to irrefutable policies at a later stage.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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