By Ehsan Ahrari
"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in the Middle East again to shore up Arab support against Iran. If she succeeds in achieving that objective - and that is a big if - there is likely to be a major realignment of forces in that area.
She may be appealing to the legendary Arab-Iranian rivalry to sell the US agenda of shoring up the Arab opposition to Iran's alleged aspirations to develop nuclear weapons. The United States has tried to play that card before. The newest wrinkle in this ongoing strategic power game is that Israel is reportedly also reaching out to "moderate" Arab states of the Persian Gulf region by focusing on Iran-phobia.
The Bush administration finds itself in a strategic cul-de-sac from where it has to make a volte-face to avoid major erosion in its strategic interests in the Middle East. Consequently, the United States is ready to plead with the moderate Arab states - most notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but also with other Gulf emirates - that it was on their side all along.
The Arab perspective is that since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has done little to dismantle the growing perception in the Arab world that the Sunni Arab states are being treated as vassals of the United States, a role that Iran is loath to play.
While Rice is making a high-profile visit to the region, Israel's diplomats are approaching the Arab sheikhdoms for a rapprochement through secret channels. No one knows for sure, but the understanding is that Israelis are enticing the Gulf sheikhs with a probable concession on the Palestinian issue."