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Saturday, January 27, 2007

West Asia Realignment Is Well Underway

Early this month, I suggested India should have strategy to deal with realignment between Saudi, Jordan, Egypt one side and Iran's Shiite influence in Lebanon and Iraq on the other. Apparently US is helping along the realignment.

David Ignatius, of Washington Post, writes Condoleezza Rice has bought into, probably, Saudi and King Abdullah's proposal of creating a broad based Sunni coalition, in conjunction with Israel, to push back Iran's growing influence in the Arab Gulf region.

In an interview Tuesday, Rice summarized the new strategy that has been coming together over the past several months. Although many of its elements have been previewed in recent weeks by commentators such as Columbia University scholar Gary Sick, Rice's comments were an unusually detailed public explanation of the new American effort to create a de facto alliance between Israel and moderate Arab states against Iranian extremism.

Rice said the new approach reflects growing Arab concern about Iran's attempt to project power through its proxies: "After the war in Lebanon, the Middle East really did begin to clarify into an extremist element allied with Iran, including Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. On the other side were the targets of this extremism -- the Lebanese, the Iraqis, the Palestinians -- and those who want to resist, such as the Saudis, Egypt and Jordan."

Although Ahmadinejad seems gung-ho about taking on US and Israel with his nuclear weapons and his announced $2billion plan for anti-American programs with Hugo Chavez, during his recent visit to Caracas, the rest of Iran is seems worried. There is lot of hand wringing about Ahmadinejad not spending that money inside the country and for endangering Iran.

Manmohan and Putin had brave words to Iran on its nuclear program during his visit to India. This, ironically, after Russia delivered anti-missile batteries to Iran to protect its nuclear sites. Beyound this rhetoric, one would hope Manmohan and Pranab Mukherjee have a plan to deal with current realignment unfolding in the Arab/Persian world.

Cross-posted on INI Signal