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Seymour Hersch: The Redirection « Previous | |Next »
March 15, 2007

In his The Redirection article in the New Yorker in early March Seymour Harris argues that in the past few months, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. Harris says:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

There has been very little discussion of this in Australia, and as I gather from Tom Engelhardt over at Tom Dispatch, minimal discussion in the US--he talks in terms of the non-reaction to the Hersh piece. What, then, has happened to the Democrats? Are they asleep? Or don't they care that Washington, in fuelling Sunni-Shia tensions, was behind much of the sectarian violence in Iraq and Lebanon?

Clearly Iran's foreign policy is concerned to confront Washington's hegemonic schemes in the region. Harris is clear on the US tactics:

One contradictory aspect of the new strategy is that, in Iraq, most of the insurgent violence directed at the American military has come from Sunni forces, and not from Shiites. But, from the Administration’s perspective, the most profound—and unintended—strategic consequence of the Iraq war is the empowerment of Iran...The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat....The Administration’s new policy for containing Iran seems to complicate its strategy for winning the war in Iraq.

For the Bush administration Iran is more dangerous and more provocative than the Sunni insurgents to American interests in Iraq. Hence the clandestine operations targeting Iran and creating strife among Arab minorities in southern Iran near the Iraqi border.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:23 PM |