The US bemoans the lack of trust between Iraq's Sunnis and Shias, which only serves to heighten the contradictions of their own policy in the region.
By Dilip Hiro
"......This is disingenuous. While bemoaning the "depth of mistrust" between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq, the Bush administration has been playing it up in the rest of the Arab Middle East. Two days earlier, Gates and secretary of state Condoleezza Rice announced a massive $63bn arms sale to the Sunni monarchical regimes in the Persian Gulf and Egypt - ostensibly to counter the influence of Iran, a predominantly Shia state.
Their criticism of the Sunni Arab regimes for failing to implement the commitments - specifically setting up embassies in Baghdad - they had made about backing the Shia-led Maliki government two months earlier, highlighted the contradictions in America's policy in the region.....
Tehran is buoyed by the fact that recent polls in Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt have highlighted the popularity of political Islam in the Arab world. In the freest and fairest parliamentary election in the region, Hamas won in the Sunni Palestinian territories. In Sunni Egypt, despite the strongarm tactics of the Hosni Mubarak government to bar Islamist voters from reaching the polling stations, the Muslim Brotherhood won 60% of the parliamentary seats it contested. And in Lebanon, pro-Tehran Hizbullah won a record number of seats allocated to the Shia community.
This enabled Iran's supreme leader, ayatollah Ali Khamanei to declare recently: "Today, if a referendum is held in any Islamic country, the people will vote for individuals supporting Islam and opposing the United States."
Little wonder that the Bush administration has stopped preaching the virtues of multi-party democracy in the Arab Middle East."