Did anyone notice the political underpinnings of US foreign policy in the Iraq vs Saudi Arabia Asian Cup final? It was not an ordinary match and not just because Iraq won, setting off a rare moment of unity in that war torn country.
One could not ask for more contrasting US foreign policy stances towards each country.
Saudi Arabia has been the recipient of continued US largesse even as reports suggest that the country supplies the most number of insurgents to the Iraq civil war. And then there is the small little problem of 9/11 being carried out by terrorists, a majority of them, Saudi Arabian nationals. But the fact is the Bush and Clinton administrations bought over by oil money, are thick with the Saudi Arabian aristocracy, and have treated them with kid gloves, even as Saudi Arabian money fuels a wave of fundamentalist schools set up across the world.
Contrast this with the almost inhuman sanctions against Iraq during Saddam's times, resulting in one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the world. Now, Nuri Al Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister is being left twisting in the wind as the Bush administration gradually changes the political frame, blaming Maliki for failing to meet benchmarks. This is as Bush has repeatedly declared Iraq to be the central front in the GWOT.
It is small wonder that Mohammad Younus, the Iraqi striker and star in his country's win, used the triumphal occasion to air his opinion of the war. "I want the Americans out of Iraq, " he said. As for the White House, the last time George Bush had talked about giving "freedoms" to the Iraqi soccer team during the 2004 Olympics, he was met by universal derision by the Iraqi players and their coach. This time around there was not one word from the White House on the Iraqi success.