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Shelby worried Iraq’s oil will fall into Iran’s hands

By Regina Wright
· rwright@decaturdaily.com
340-2439

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby urged his colleagues to seek victory in Iraq during a speech on the Senate floor Thursday. However, he did not answer or offer a solution to his final question.

“Why is no one looking for a way to win, as opposed to simply a way out?” the Tuscaloosa Republican asked.

He said he did not support the Warner/Levin resolution, a non-binding resolution, which states that the Senate no longer has confidence in President Bush’s conduct of the war.

“The armed forces need support, both materially and morally, from the policymakers who sent them into combat,” said Shelby. “Ambiguity has no place in our strategy or operations in Iraq.”

Shelby also worries about Iraq’s oil supply if the country falls under Iranian influence or control.

“As we debate a strategy for Iraq, we need to make certain we paint the big picture and understand what is at stake,” he said. “If we precipitously withdraw our troops, we will open the door for the Iranians to exert even more influence in both Iraq and the Middle East.”

Shelby argued that the future of the U.S., and not only the Middle East, is at risk.

“The oil reserves in Iraq are vast — believed to be only second in size in the Middle East to those of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Imagine over half the world’s oil in the hands of the mullahs in Tehran.

“Picture the world with another nuclear power that hates the United States and all it stands for. The president is correct when he states that those who say the future of Iraq is not a direct threat to our national security are deluding themselves.”

Shelby said if the U.S. fails in Iraq, the country will become a safe haven for radical extremists who will threaten the free world.

“No one appears to have the answer to the calamity that is the current state of affairs in Iraq. Even those outspoken detractors of the Bush plan do not offer practical alternatives. Cutting and running is not an option. Not for the United States. Even the appearance of doing so under another name is unacceptable at every level.”

Shelby said his opposition to the resolution should not be confused with “blind support” for the president’s policy.

He said he has doubts about the future of Iraq and the U.S. role, and he posed these questions:

  • Should we put more of our service members in harm’s way?
  • Is the number of troops in the surge enough? Or do we need more?
  • Is it too late to recover, and should we just cut our losses and begin to withdraw our troops?
  • If we did withdraw, what would be the cost? American prestige? An unleashing of transnational terrorism? The establishment of Iran as the dominant force in the Middle East?
  • Will the Iraqi government step up to help secure the country? Or will sending more troops only delay Iraq’s government from taking more responsibility?
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