"Try as it might, the U.S. has apparently failed again to convince its Arab allies in the Persian Gulf to promise to step in with their cash and credibility in support of the fledgling, Shiite-led Iraqi government.
In a visit to Bahrain on Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to convince oil-rich Persian Gulf nations to relieve Iraq of billions of dollars of debt, open embassies in the war-torn country and help counter Iran's growing influence.
She walked away empty-handed. Instead, Rice's latest visit to the region has prompted a fresh storm of criticism against U.S. policy in Iraq, which is the subject of a big conference in Kuwait today......
In today’s London-based pan-Arab daily al-Quds al-Arabi, columnist Abdelbari Atwan called Rice's demand to support the Maliki government as a bulwark against Iran "perhaps her most provocative and offensive" request:
That Iranian influence in Iraq is expanding and rising is only to be expected. This is because the architects of the U.S. war in Iraq paved the way for it by disbanding the Iraqi army, dismantling Iraqi state institutions, criminalizing the Baath Party, setting up Iran’s allies and militias as the new rulers, and providing them with money, weapons, and political and moral support. Now, these same architects are coming to demand that the Arabs fix what they themselves have ruined, and to support the sectarian hate-filled Maliki government that makes no secret of its loathing for the Arabs.
Among commentators, there is a strong sense that it's not worth it for the Arab world to do anything the Bush administration wants, since the president's term has only nine months left. Another Op-Ed article published recently by the Arab daily Al-Hayat, Patrick Seal called Rice's goal of improving security in Iraq an impossible task:
She (Rice) is hoping to persuade Iraq's neighbours to help the United States pacify the shattered and war-torn country — in other words to help repair some of the terrible damage the U.S. itself has done. It may be worth a try, but the prospects are highly unpromising… The time has surely come for the regional states to take their destiny into their own hands. They should convene a conference on Iraq — but politely ask Condoleezza Rice to stay away. "