Painting a Grim Future

Saudis and Iran prepare to do battle over corpse of Iraq
By Philip Sherwell in New York, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:13pm GMT 03/12/2006

The gulf’s two military powers, Sunni-Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, are lining up behind their warring religious brethren in Iraq in a potentially explosive showdown, as expectations grow in both countries that America is preparing a pull-out of its troops.

The Saudis, America’s closest allies in the Arab World, were reported – in an article last week by Nawaf Obaid, a senior government security adviser- to be considering providing anti-US Sunni military leaders with funding, logistical support and even arms – as Iran already does for Shia militia in Iraq.

Riyadh is alarmed that Sunnis in Iraq could be abandoned to their fate – military and political – at the hands of the Shia majority.

Indeed, President George W Bush dispatched his vice-president Dick Cheney to Saudi last weekend after the kingdom demanded high-level consultations about their concerns.

They told him that Iran was trying to establish itself as the dominant regional power through its influence in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

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