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PRAGUE — This week U.S. President George W. Bush is — reluctantly — announcing a new policy for the United States in Iraq. A new policy is needed not only in order to halt America’s drift into impotence as it tries to prevent Iraq from spiraling into full-scale civil war, but also because the map of power in the Middle East has changed dramatically.

That map has been in constant flux for the last 60 years, during which the main players — Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Israel and Iran — have formed and broken alliances. Now, something like a dividing line is emerging, and if Bush finally begins to understand the region’s dynamics, he may be able to craft a policy with a chance of success.

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