The New York Times reports today that Saudi Arabia will back the Sunni minority in Iraq if the United States withdraws its troops. This move by the Saudi government sends a strong message that they will not be passive observers of Iran’s involvement in Iraq. Nawaf Obaid, a security adviser to Saudi Arabia, writing in the Washington Post last month, warned of this impending possibility, although he made clear his views were not those of his country. It appears now that they are. King Abdullah expressed Saudi Arabia’s intentions to support Iraq’s Sunnis to Dick Cheney during the VP’s visit to Riyadh two weeks ago. It’s a foregone conclusion that bordering nations will play a role in the outcome of the situation in Iraq. What possible roles are still unknown, but there are several scary prospects floating around. Obaid wrote, “To be sure, Saudi engagement in Iraq carries great risks — it could spark a regional war. So be it: The consequences of inaction are far worse.”
A proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia is definitely one of the looming possibilities.