A lot of the misunderstanding about Iraq is the failure to see the thousand plus year divide between Sunni and Shiia Islam.

The Farsi Shiia are not the same as the Arab Shia, but the meddling of Iran into Iraq can be understood not only as Iranian mullah’s mischiefmaking but as supporting their fellow Shia.

The Shia Arabs live along the gulf, so the secular Gulf states are Shia, but historically they are also sophisiticated traders that have had links with the outside world and are less prone to suspicion of outsiders and other religions than the Saudis or even the Shia in Persia, where the Mullahs were put into power not by the sophisticated upper classes but by the lower middle class who booted out the Shah who had done a lot of social engineering in villages and neighborhoods that went against their customs and traditions.

In contrast, the Saudis have a rich royal family, but encourage xenophobia. The dirty little secret is that much of the basic economy is done for less money by Bengalis and Philippinos. (e.g. drivers, shopkeepers, carpenters) who often work and live in enclaves while lacking freedom of religion, and who risk arrest for simple passtimes like gambling or drinking.

The Saudis are paranoid about a “Shia” bomb, and paranoid that Iran will unite with Shia Arabs in Iraq and the Gulf states, and end up encouraging the 15% of Saudi Muslims who are Shia (and live in the oil rich areas) to rebel.

That is why there has been recent talk about a Sunni bomb made or bought by Saudi Arabia, and a lot of arms sales to Saudi and other Gulf states. So if a Mideast war does break out, the larger population in Iran could be offset by superior Arab weaponry.
To defuse the crisis, the Saudis met with the president of Iran last weekend…and then according to the Jerusalem Post:

There are still no details on the conversation itself, but Abdullah apparently warned Ahmadinejad about the Americans, who are increasing their presence in the Persian Gulf. I believe that Abdullah offered to mediate between the Iranians and the Americans, and he has the ability to do so comparatively well. After the first round of talks, they left for dinner, and later resumed talks.

Shortly before midnight, it was announced suddenly that Ahmadinejad was returning to Teheran. I believe that the talks blew up, since it’s strange for him not to have stayed at least a night on such an important visit, one that had been prepared ahead of time….

Summary: the Iranian President got mad and left, and as a result spurned Saudi attempts to defuse the sunni/shia crisis in the Gul. Iran figures they can continue to cause trouble and make their bomb while “talking” will gain them more time.

Unless, of course, Israel attacks, then all bets are off.StrategyPage has an analysis of the Sunni response to Iranian militancy HERE

It includes facts not mentioned in the JPOST article: That Iran itself has a lot of minorities, (it is only 45% Farsi) and their minorities include Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds. Indeed, there have been several bombings and attacks in the South East by Baluchi insurgent groups.

What do I know about the Middle East? Not much, except for the fact that there are a million Filipino OFW in the area, and that a war there will be devestating in many ways for the Philippines.

And because I know that there are a lot more countries involved than the “US vs insurgent” story of CNNInternationa, I probably more than Nancy Pelosi and a lot of aging hippies who are reliving the glory days of their youth in seeing Iraq as Viet Nam. Ah, the good old days of the anti war movement, with drugs, sex and rock and roll had more to do with protests than the actual live Asians who were involved. Yup, they now pat themselves on the back for being the “good guys”, as if the American withdrawal resulted in the age of Acquarius to come to SEAsia, resulting in peace and understanding…

Hello. This is racism at it’s worst. “J’Accuse”, to quote the famous writer: I accuse you of caring more about your pleasures than about real live Asians who died as a result of your deeds.

Indeed, as William Shawcrosson in today’s London Times points out, he now recognizes that the result of a US pull out from Viet nam was not peace, but the killing fields of Cambodia, and the “reeducation camps” of Viet Nam and Laos, and the two million boat people displaced from those countries.

That is why Shawcroson laments his blindness in not foreseeing the massacres of Viet Nam, and dares (in a left wing newspaper) to say to those opposing the war in Iraq: you didn’t take responsibility for the dead from your actions thirty years ago, but at least try to see what will happen now if you take out the international troops who essentially are the only guarantees for peace, since the “push” is about removing the militants on both sides before the proxy war between Persia and Arabs becomes an open world War.
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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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