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Lugar: Arab-Israeli conflict, oil, key in Iraq

In a major dissent from the White House, a top GOP senator said resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict and ending dependence on Mideast oil are the two “elephants in the room” of U.S. Iraq policy.The Senate floor speech Tuesday by Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, earned broad media coverage because of Lugar’s demand that President George W. Bush change course in the Iraq war.Lugar’s dissent is seen as the first public sign that Bush could lose Republican backing for the war in the coming months. Several Republican sources have said that Bush must show progress in Iraq by September.”Credibility and sustainability of our actions depend on addressing the two elephants in the room of U.S. Middle East policy: the Arab-Israeli conflict and U.S. dependence on Persian Gulf oil,” Lugar said. “These are the two problems that our adversaries, especially Iran, least want us to address.”Later he added: “We have to demonstrate clearly that the United States is committed to helping facilitate a negotiated outcome. Progress in the Arab-Israeli conflict would not end the sectarian conflict in Iraq, but it could restore credibility lost by the United States in the region. It also would undercut terrorist propaganda, slow Iranian influence, and open new possibilities related to Syria.”