The Writing Is On the Wall

Accusing Iraqi Shiites of treason, Hosni Mubarak implies his desire to restore Sunni hegemony in Iraq. When the Americans leave then Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan will support the Sunnis while some Shia militias will enjoy the support of Iran.

From the perspective of foreign Arab powers, support for Iraqi Sunnis makes sense not only on cultural but on realist grounds.

Iraq and Iran are the only countries in the Middle East that have oil and water. It would be impossible for the gulf states to resist an Iraqi-Iranian alliance because without water the oil states lack the population to match the size of Iraq’s and Iran’s armed forces.

Therefore the gulf states and their clients Egypt and Syria depend on an Iraqi-Iranian rivalry. Moreover, the weaker the base of an Iraqi government, the more leverage Arab governments will enjoy in Iraqi politics.

Clearly, Mubarak anticipates both an American withdrawal and the failure of Iraqi communities to settle their differences. His rhetoric positons him to pursue Egyptian interests vigorously. When Egypt brings its support to bear in the form of training, equipment, and advisors, oil money will finance her efforts.



  1. It seems like this type of thing should motivate Iraqis to settle their differences and look to Turkey as a model. At least that way they have a solution that prevents the type of interference with their sovereignty that both the sunni-majority states and Iran are certainly counting on.


  2. I agree. It would be a lot easier to secure everyone’s rights in a secular state. That option evaporated when our occupation was unable to establish order.Without order and security everyone has to rely on their own means. In the case of the Shia that means religious militias, who will not settle for a secular state.And if you are a Sunni, the temptation of striking a deal with the outsiders at the expense of the Shia is very attractive.


  3. I’m not sure if Mubarak is actually expecting an American withdrawal from Iraq. He may be playing the demogogue to win some brownie points with fundies in his own country. Anyway, I think Hosni is a bit of an idiot and one probably shouldn’t read too much into what he’s babbling about.One important point though is that the US will not withdraw from Iraq. They may draw down their forces but they obviously have an interesting sustaining a large military presence in Iraq for strategic reasons. I think another very interesting point between the relations between sunni and shia is that the shia tend to live in the oil rich areas, even in countries dominated by sunni. This will be a big factor in the growing war between sunni and shia in the region.Who knows how the coming attack on Iran is going to affect this volatile relations between sunnis and shia.


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