Saturday, February 2, 2008

My enemy's enemy is my friend

This week's Economist has a story which asks: "How America's own intelligence services have brought international policy on Iran to the edge of collapse". It concludes

"Iran may not yet be home free, but the international campaign to stop it getting the bomb that many countries think it wants is on the point of failure."

The story's theme is that US spies fumbled badly in producing a report last month which said Iran stopped its secret nuclear-weapons programme in 2003. A disaster for the Israelis who fear annihilation, the French and Germans who were working at the UN to contain Iran and of course the UK-US nuke-busters who consider Iran the Great Satan. Only the Russians and the Chinese (who else?) will gain.

My conspiracy theory of the day is different. The US economy is sinking - laid low by the bursting of the credit bubble. Having oil prices touch $100 is a burden the US can do without. So the president was seen begging the Saudi oil minister to increase supplies - and hence reduce the price on world markets. The Saudis are unmoved.

What could pressure them? Of course, Riyadh's rivals to the supremacy in the Middle East are the Mullahs of Teheran. So the US eases up on the Iranians - and brows furrow in the Arabian landmass. The US also wants the Saudis to tow the line in Pakistan, where they have considerable sway in the upcoming elections. Again giving Iran some leeway to chase after the Persian bomb would have the Saudis reaching for the rosemary.

None of this behaviour would surprise anyone in the Middle East where everyone knows my enemy's enemy is my friend.

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