Rice and Cheney – Good Cop, Bad Cop

Cheney in a Sandstorm

[..] Cheney’s visit to the region, however, has a starkly different purpose. Whereas Rice played the role of the engaging diplomat, Cheney will be playing the role of enforcer.

Cheney is notably visiting the main Sunni powerhouses of the region — Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Amman. By intently focusing his trip on Washington’s Arab allies, Cheney is sending a clear message to Tehran that the U.S. government is not about to allow Iran to sweep into Iraq and upset the regional balance by spreading Shiite influence into the heart of the Arab world. The Sunni Arab states are very concerned that any deal the United States makes with Iran would end up compromising the historical upper hand that the Sunnis have long maintained in containing their Shiite rivals.

Moreover, the Sunni powers are worried that the continuing sectarian conflict in Iraq will eventually spread beyond the country’s borders and threaten political interests at home. Saudi King Abdullah expressed his exasperation at the U.S. lack of progress in Iraq quite bluntly at the Arab League summit in March, when he labeled the U.S. troop presence in Iraq as an “illegitimate foreign occupation.” Though King Abdullah lambasted the United States in his speech, the reality of the situation is that Riyadh, as well as the other Sunni states, are not exactly keen on the idea of a U.S. troop withdrawal leaving a power vacuum in Iraq for the Iranians to fill. King Abdullah has doubtless given serious thought to a scenario down the line in which Iranian troops are sitting on the Iraqi-Saudi border within spitting distance of Saudi Arabia’s prized oil fields.

May 10, 2007 | Comments Off on Rice and Cheney – Good Cop, Bad Cop

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