William R. Hawkins
The Washington Times
September 2, 2007
The best argument for the necessity of American victory in Iraq was made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Aug. 28 when he declared his regime was “prepared to fill the gap” if U.S. forces withdrew. To give meaning to Tehran’s claim, the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army of Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr appeared poised to take control of the key Iraqi city of Basra in the wake of a British pullback. And attacks by the Mahdists on rival Shi’ite groups in Karbala took more than 50 lives during a major religious festival. Sheik al-Sadr plans to strengthen his militia over the next six months to prepare for the end of the U.S. surge.
President Bush responded to the Iranian threat in his speech to the American Legion, but he is already doing more than just threatening to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. At the end of July, the State Department unveiled a series of arms sales in the region to help contain Tehran. In her July 30 announcement of the potential sale of $20 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and the other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the arms will “support a broader strategy to counter the negative influences of al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.” The military aid to the Saudis and Gulf states will run in parallel with an increase in military aid to Israel ($30 billion) and Egypt ($13) over the next decade.
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