No good choices

Saudis reportedly threaten to back Sunni insurgency if Bush pulls out of Iraq.

Published December 13, 2006 2:02PM (EST)

You know that expression, "over a barrel"?

From this morning's New York Times: When Saudi leaders summoned Dick Cheney to Riyadh for a "come to Jesus" talk last month, this is what they had to tell him: If the United States pulls out of Iraq, leaving the Sunni minority at the mercy of Shiite death squads and handing Iran a free pass for further influence there, the Saudis may decide to start funding the Sunni insurgency.

As the Times explains, the Saudis have been "wary of supporting Sunnis in Iraq because their insurgency there has been led by extremists of al-Qaida, who are opposed to the kingdoms monarchy. But if Iraqs sectarian war worsened, the Saudis would line up with Sunni tribal leaders."

Let's say that again slowly. With his ill-advised war in Iraq, George W. Bush has now created a situation in which one of his closest allies in the Middle East may decide to side with al-Qaida in Iraq -- even though al-Qaida would like to see its government overthrown.

No wonder it's taking so long for the new "way forward."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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