IN OTHER WORDS
While Washington hasn’t protested publicly, Riyadh is pouring money into Sunni opposition groups and letting Saudis cross the border to join Sunni insurgents fighting the American-backed, Shiite-led government. Washington estimates that nearly half of the 60 to 80 foreign fighters entering Iraq each month come from Saudi Arabia. So far, neither Washington nor Riyadh is spending any time thinking about containing the chaos that will follow the inevitable American withdrawal.
At the same time, Saudis cannot be expected to sit still while the Iraqi Sunnis are driven from their homes, denied decent jobs and treated as second-class citizens by the Iraqi government. If Washington wants Saudi backing for the Nuri Kamal al-Maliki government, Maliki must earn it by ending sectarianism in the security forces, reforming discriminatory anti-Baathist restrictions and pushing through an equitable oil revenue law. It is past time for President Bush to acknowledge that the US has no realistic chance of winning a military victory in Iraq, and that it needs to be urgently preparing to manage the consequences of an American withdrawal. That will require working cooperatively with all of Iraq’s neighbours, including Iran and Syria. Compared with those, Saudi Arabia should be easy. — The New York Times