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Dragging in Libya’s Neighbors

2:00 PM, Mar 8, 2011 • By LEE SMITH
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Writing in the Wall Street Journal today, Richard Haass argues against U.S. intervention in Libya: “American policy makers would be wiser to focus on what they can do to see that Egypt’s transition proceeds smoothly, that Saudi Arabia remains stable, and that Iran does not.” However, all of these issues are tied to what is unfolding in Libya. Perhaps even more important than the prospect that Egypt’s transition could be affected by Qaddafi’s war spilling over the border is the key fact that Iran is benefiting from all the regional instability.

As Tareq Homayed explains in his Asharq al-Awsat column:

Iran wants to take advantage of the Libyan crisis that has led to significant increases in oil prices, not to mention the global tremors taking place in the oil markets. Iran wants to compensate for the losses it has incurred due to the economic sanctions imposed on it by the West, and develop its revenue as a result. Therefore, Tehran opposes the idea of increasing [oil] production and maintaining stable oil prices, whilst Saudi Arabia seeks to do the opposite. Because Saudi Arabia is trying hard to support the stability of oil markets, as the country is well aware of the consequences of high oil prices, which, if they were exaggerated, would be disastrous for everyone, whether the producer or the consumer. Riyadh is aware that an exaggerated rise in oil prices may actually lead to the collapse of states, rather than markets. This is of course a battle that is being conducted out of sight [between Iran and Saudi Arabia], and few are aware of its existence.

In other words, the Iranians and their allies are using Libya as yet another battleground for their regional war against the U.S.-backed order—the shame is that Washington is all but oblivious to what’s at stake.

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