It’s all about the money and the cronies:
As the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East was leaving the Al-Jazeera television studios after an interview, one of the station managers shook his hand and joked: “Sir, you just made apartment prices jump in Dubai.”
The reason: Adm. William Fallon just said he didn’t believe war with Iran was looming.
“It’s all about trying to contain Iran without turning this into a war,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington.
Fallon was peppered with questions about Iran at every stop in his trip.
Gulf rulers fretted about how conflict would derail their nations’ galloping growth as malls, villas and skyscrapers — including the world’s tallest in Dubai — sprout in the vanilla-hued sand. Dubai currently hosts about one-quarter of the world’s construction cranes, according to local boosters.
The Gulf’s military brass presented their own worries. Most of them were spun around grave scenarios in which an Iran-US war would quickly swallow the entire region and make the Iraq battles seem like a sideshow.
IRAQI Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has secured a pledge from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to help sever weapons, money and other support to militiamen in Iraq, US and Iraqi officials said.
The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said there were signs of a drop in the types of attacks associated with Shiite militants since the pledge was made last month. He dangled the possibility that US and Iraqi officials might be able to do something in return, but it was too early to tell whether there had been a real reduction in Iran’s support.
He said his government has begun a dialogue with Iran and Syria and has explained to them that their activities are unhelpful. As a result, he said, “our relationships with these countries has improved to the point that they are not interfering in our internal affairs.”
Asked about Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Forces, which the U.S. military charges is arming, training and directing Shiite militias in Iraq, Maliki said: “There used to be support through borders for these militias. But it has ceased to exist.”