Friday, December 08, 2006

Iraq a regional, not civil, war

We hear of civil war in Iraq constantly. It really isn't. It is a regional war with neighboring governments and private citizens stoking the fire. Take this story, for example:

Private Saudi citizens are giving millions of dollars to Sunni insurgents in Iraq and much of the money is used to buy weapons, including shoulder fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to key Iraqi officials and others familiar with the flow of cash.

Saudi government officials deny that any money from their country is being sent to Iraqis fighting the government and the U.S.-led coalition.

But the U.S. Iraq Study Group report said Saudis are a source of funding for Sunni Arab insurgents. Several truck drivers interviewed by The Associated Press described carrying boxes of cash from Saudi Arabia into Iraq, money they said was headed for insurgents.

Two high-ranking Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue's sensitivity, told the AP most of the Saudi money comes from private donations, called zaqat, collected for Islamic causes and charities.

Is it concerning that private Saudi citizens are supporting the minority Iraqi Sunni? Yes, a little bit, but not as concerning as the state support that the majority Shi'ites are likely getting from Iran and Syria. It is chic for the media to try to point out Saudi faults, but organizations like the AP really should be focusing harder on the involvement of Iran and Syria in the mess that is Iraq. Saudis fear a bloodbath for their Sunni cousins in Iraq at the hands of Shi'ites that are supported by Iran, so I don't see them (the Saudis) as the root of the problem.

One book that I never though got the attention it deserved earlier on in the war was The Secret History of the Iraq War by Yossef Bodansky. I remember driving from New Jersey to Philadelphia one day in 2004 and listening to the book discussed on the radio. Since I had some time before my flight out of Philly, I stopped in a bookstore and became engrossed by it. I had no way of vouching for the facts in the book, but Bodansky painted a very clear picture of a war where the Russians were less than helpful and the Iranians were elbow deep in the events in Iraq. That was over two years ago, and I suspect it has only gotten worse with the Iranians.

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