There is no Sunni infrastructure remaining in Iraq. Most of the Iraq Army and police is either Shiite or Kurd. A US withdrawal will force the Sunnis to go outside the country for assistance.
The Bush administration meeting with Tariq al-Hashemi is called reaching out to political moderates in Iraq. The problem with that strategy is the moderates by definition are the source of the problem. That source is the militants.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been trying to encourage Iraq's militant factions to do just do I don't know what. The miltants are in high gear. Why would they quit now? The US looking for help from them is just nuts.
The Iranians continue to provide support to the militant Shiites. Now according to this morning's NYT, the Saudis are considering plan "B":
Saudis Give a Grim What If Should U.S. Opt to Leave Iraq
By HELENE COOPER NYT
Published: December 13, 2006
WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 — Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said.
The Saudi warning reflects fears among America’s Sunni Arab allies about Iran’s rising influence in Iraq, coupled with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. King Abdullah II of Jordan has also expressed concern about rising Shiite influence, and about the prospect that the Shiite-dominated government would use Iraqi troops against the Sunni population.
The Saudis are worried about a US withdrawal and the power vacuum drawing all of Iraq's neighbors into a conflict.
The Saudis have an interesting card to play that could set down a very large marker with Iran. Iran is vulnerable with an ongoing need for money and a lot of it. Yesterday the German Chancellor, Merkel made comment expressing real concern about Iran getting the nuclear weapons it seeks. Europe will support some sanctions rather than face a US or Israeli attack on Iran. So here is the juice.
- The US threatens all parties with a draw down in Iraq.
- The President lets all parties know that Iran will not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. He demands tough sanctions. The Russians will not play. Ignore them. Better yet punish them. How? Read on.
- The US demands that the Saudis break out of any restraint on oil production. Tell them in no uncertain terms that the US is leaving. Tell them that the US is sick of the Middle East and if the Saudis do not play hardball by cranking the oil, they will have to solve their own problems. If they do not , someone else may wind up pumping their oil.
- Oil prices would drop.
- Russia would be given a hard lesson of their own making and would lose oil revenue.
- Iran would face tough economic sanctions and reduced oil money. Iran would be exposed to her own vulnerabilities and face lessened prestige in the Middle East.
- Conversely, Saudi Arabia would appear to be sending a message to Iran as to who is uncle in th Middle East.
- The Europeans would get economic benefits with lower oil prices during winter.
- China would not object to lower oil prices.
- The US could promise a new cooperative effort to engage the Sunnis and balance to parties in Iraq.
Bush needs to sieze the moment. This would be a chance to dust off the family jewels. This could work. It would be a chance for Bush to show he is his own man.