Over at Time Tony Karon has a piece, How the Lebanon Crisis Complicates U.S. Prospects in Iraq. I think a better title would be "How Iraq has complicated the entire middle east.
Maliki's stance highlighted a major problem facing the Bush Administration's Middle East crisis: The U.S. has viewed Israel's fight with Hizballah as an opportunity to rally Arab support against growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. But it is not even able to rally the support of Iraq, an Arab government dependent for its security on U.S. troops.The entire middle east is divided into to main and often opposing forces, Shia and Sunni. What the overthrow of Saddam accomplished was to give the Shia and Iran a new power base.
In truth, anyone paying attention to the Middle East these days ought not to have been surprised by Maliki's remarks. No democratically elected Arab leader is likely to criticize Hizballah while Lebanese Arabs are under Israeli attack. The prime minister's coalition, in fact, made a pre-election pledge, at the behest of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr, to refrain from recognizing Israel.
But his differences with Washington over Lebanon may be more than simply symbolic: Maliki heads a Shi'ite coalition dominated by three radical Islamist groupings — SCIRI, his own Dawa Party and the Sadrist movement — all of which have ties to Iran. And even as they sit in the cabinet, SCIRI and the Sadrists maintain powerful militias outside of government control. Leading elements of the new Iraqi government, in other words, share an ideological and geopolitical orientation with Hizballah.
The emergence of a Shi'ite government in Baghdad riled pro-U.S. Sunni Arab regimes such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia for just that reason, and Iraq's mounting sectarian conflict has stoked sectarian tensions elsewhere in the region. Perhaps reflecting those mounting tensions, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak caused an uproar when he recently said, "Most of the Shi'ites are loyal to Iran, and not to the countries they are living in."Hizballah simply holding it's own against Israel has strenthened the Shia power in the region. As usual the neocons have been wrong about everything and the middle east is far less stable than it was when Saddam was in power. Both the United States and Israel are less secure as a result. The Shia have the upper hand now in Iraq and they are not about to give it up. With the United States support of Israel it's only a matter of time before the Shia militias and probably even the Security Forces themselves turn on the American troops.
The neocons have simply been wrong about everything and the American people are beginning to realize it.