Saudi Arabia and Sudan will boycott a historic United Nations population conference that kicks off next week in Cairo. The sticking point is a U.S.-backed resolution that aims to curb the world's population by improving the status of women so they have access to education -- and contraceptives. The Pope and some Islamic clergy have also protested the U.S. stance. While their opposition was predictable, today's announcement by the two countries was not. Will it start a domino effect that could render the conference useless? Probably not, says TIME Senior Writer Eugene Linden. First of all, Iran, the most fundamentalist Islamic regime, is still on board, Linden points out. Second, other nations aren't likely to give up a shot at some of the $17 billion that will be channeled from the conference by the U.N. and Western countries.