Source: The Fayetteville Observer
By Larry Shaw
I write to speak to the State Department, White House, congressional leaders as well as our lack of allies in the Middle East.
In May and June of 2006, I visited Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a few other countries. I had the opportunity to meet and have discussions with former ambassadors, current heads of state and individuals on Forbes Magazine’s business billionaires list.
Their concerns about the deteriorating relationship between the United States and the Middle East were frankly disclosed. It is my opinion that it is imperative for us to explore nontraditional and unorthodox alternatives.
In January, I had a dinner meeting with His Royal Highness Prince Turki Al-Faisal, former ambassador of Saudi Arabia. During our discussions, everyone was bemoaning the quagmire the United States had created and how the insurgents had opened up a new marketplace to share their ideas and their violence, and the damage it will take years to undo.
As the ambassador was caught up in his tales of woe, the thought occurred to me that maybe all isn’t as bad as it seems. At this juncture, I suggested that his country revive the 2002 Arab League International Accord presented by Crown Prince Abdullah, the current king of Saudi Arabia. I reminded him the accord was consistent with the Camp David Accord, Oslo Accord, Geneva Initiative and United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.
All of these treaties were ratified and accepted by all 23 signatory countries who long declared that Israel had no right to exist. It calls for a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, with guarantees of peace and security.
The ambassador took on a tone of excitement. He announced that he and his staff were intrigued by this entire concept. He stated he would present this to the king. Within 30 days it was re-launched. Today, Israel and the Arab countries are talking about sustainable peace for the first time in 50 years.
The 2008 presidential contenders, Democrats and Republicans, are saying that there is no way out of Iraq until the end of their first term. This is unacceptable. We need a new strategy, one that will take us where we want to go.
The common goal is to reach a judicious solution that will be beneficial to all of our countries. Conventional wisdom says that the “road map to peace” in the Middle East leads through Palestine and Israel. This process is under way.
Secondly, we must bring in new coalition partners whom we can trust. I am calling for our congressional leaders, the White House and the State Department to bring in new coalition partners with a very high stake in the outcome — such as coalition partners from he Organization of Islamic Conferences, which consists of about 60 different countries. These countries each could contribute 2,000 to 3,000 soldiers, creating a force of roughly 125,000 troops the United States could train, equip and monitor with satellite guidance.
The Iraqi security forces have done nothing but ethnically purge the entire country. They have run approximately 4 million Sunnis out of the country into Jordan, Syria and other surrounding countries.
The OIC countries have no vendettas or old scores to settle. It would be a perfect match to allow us to transition out of the country with dignity, respect, while holding our heads up high. The United States could relocate the Iraqis back by rebuilding homes, creating an economy and bringing in commercial generators the size of locomotives to power Baghdad, supplying electricity, running water, clothes and medicine.
Next, we must address the psychological warfare, in which we have failed miserably. Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida have had free will in saying what they want without any rebuttal from Islamic scholars. It is almost as if he is speaking words of divine wisdom. There are many scholarly Islamic American citizens, as well as scholars abroad, who could contrast the rhetoric that he places in the marketplace. He must not have a free hand to do this; it must stop.
If we do all of these in tandem, then and only then can we effect national reconciliation.
As an American Muslim, I value the lives of all human beings, and this exit strategy echoes this motto.
Finally, I have heard too many mothers and fathers saying, “I do not want my son or daughter to die in vain.” It’s time to bring the soldiers home; the honorable way out.
Larry Shaw, a Democrat from Fayetteville, represents District 21 in the state Senate.