Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fareed Sabri Interview by Mahan Abedin

Saudi Debate is a forum publishing a " range of views about life, society and reform in Saudi Arabia. Business people, academics, political figures and journalists both within the kingdom and around the world have contributed to these discussions, and reached the conclusion that open and constructive debate is vital if issues of importance are to be addressed and better understood."

Mahan Abedin, former editor of the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, is the director of research at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism, a London-based organisation studying Islamism, democratization and extremism in the Muslim world. Born in Iran but raised and educated in the United Kingdom, he writes regularly on Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Islamic movements and terrorism.

In this very candid interview one of Iraq's leading political figures, no special friend of the occupation, speaks clearly about the situation in Iraq. This is not the language of spin. The man advances cold, hard facts.

MA: Some American military commanders have claimed that the “surge” could last as long as 12 months, and maybe well into 2008. Is this possible?

FS: I don’t think it is viable to sustain an operation on this scale for such a prolonged period. I don’t envisage this operation lasting for more than 4-5 months. The Americans need to use the improving security situation to build something politically. Because if there are no breakthroughs on the political front then this operation will fail and the Americans will have to come up with a new strategy.

MA: But I thought you said this was the last chance to save Iraq!

FS: I meant this is the last chance for the Americans to stabilise the situation so as to save the political process which they established in Iraq after the invasion. I did not mean this was the last chance for the Iraqis to work together to save the country. But if the Americans fail again they will have to come up with a radically different strategy.

MA: What do you mean by a radically different strategy?

FS: If they fail they will probably reduce their forces, withdraw into their bases and just let Iraqi society implode. They will effectively be spectators to a civil war. I don’t think the Americans are going to leave Iraq anytime soon as some people envisage.

The entire interview is worth reading.

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