Syria and Iran are willing to help try to stabilize Iraq but they will want something in return and neither has a magic solution to the country's bloodshed, Mideast officials and analysts said Wednesday after a US commission recommended such outreach.
Arabs were paying close attention to the long-awaited Iraq Commission report and other developments in Washington - recognizing that, whether they oppose or support the United States, what it does next in Iraq could have a major impact across the Mideast.
The region's most popular satellite news networks, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, both gave live coverage - with Arabic voice-over translation - of the Washington press conference releasing the report Wednesday. They also repeatedly showed Congressional testimony a day earlier by President George W. Bush's pick for a new defense secretary, Robert Gates, who acknowledged the US was not winning in Iraq and telling lawmakers that "all options are on the table."
The bipartisan Iraq Commission report warned that the situation in Iraq is "grave and deteriorating" and called for the administration to try to engage Syria and Iran as part of a diplomatic effort to bring stability. At the same time, it called for increased US military support of Iraqi Army units with an eye toward pulling out most US troops by 2008.