U.S. to lobby Arab nations on Iraq

July 30, 2007 - 0:0

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. President George W Bush's top diplomatic and military managers have a tough assignment in the Middle East in the week ahead.

They will have to convince skeptical Arab nations that they have more to lose if Iraq fails than they stand to gain by waiting until the U.S. leaves or Bush's term ends. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia for a rare joint lobbying effort to prod Iraq's mostly rich, Sunni-led Mideast neighbors to help stabilize the chaotic country and support Shiite-headed government. Gates and Rice also will do some hand-holding with Arab allies, which are worried that the U.S. may leave a dangerous vacuum if it withdraws troops too quickly. The Cabinet secretaries will also try to solidify what the U.S. sees as a bulwark of generally moderate Arab states against an increasingly ambitious and unpredictable Iran. Unity against Iran is not a hard sell. But Washington has had far less success in rallying Arab help for Iraq that goes much beyond words. Arab money and diplomatic support has lagged behind Europe's, and some of Iraq's neighbors quietly tolerate, or may secretly support, attacks inside Iraq. Some of the violence targets U.S. forces and some of it Shiite militias and neighborhoods. ''The United States wants to persuade all the countries in the region to be proactive in a helpful way,'' said Samir Sumaida'ie, Iraq's ambassador to Washington. (Source: ndtv.com