MOST ARABS it seems think that President Bush's latest plan to "surge" American troops in Iraq by 20,000 is doomed to fail. Most say that a political solution, backed by military might, is the only way to stop the civil war in Iraq from continuing to spiral out of control.
Bassem Alim, a Saudi lawyer and political writer, told me in a story for the New York Times that “Bush’s strategy of surging troops is nothing new. He did that last year when he announced an additional 40,000 troops were being sent to Iraq. That didn’t do the job, and I don’t think that an additional 20,000 troops will do the job either.” He added, “Either Bush doesn’t understand the situation, or he is blinded by his evangelical beliefs.” To read the NYT story click here.
Alim also told me (but this was not printed) that he felt that Iraq was reliving its Safavid period around 500 years ago in 1509 when the Shia Persians invaded Baghdad and killed most of the Sunnis there. It was only when the Ottomans faught back that the Persians were pushed back in 1514.
He also told me that he thought the Middle East was going to see a redrawing of borders that would result in the formation of a couple of super-Sunni and super-Shia states. He even said that Saudi Arabia could end up seeing its borders redrawn, with the Western region of Hejaz allying itself with Sunni Jordan and Egypt (as it has historically).