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Iraq rejects Syrian request for coordination with international coalition Open in fullscreen

Othman al-Mukhtar

Iraq rejects Syrian request for coordination with international coalition

The Syrian delegation left the meeting with Abadi empty handed [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 26 December, 2014

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For the second time in three months, according to high-ranking officials in the Iraqi government, the Syrian regime has requested Iraq facilitate coordination with the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

Sources in Baghdad have told al-Araby al-Jadeed that  Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has refused a Syrian request that the Iraqi government act as an intermediary between the Syrian regime and the international coalition.

An Iraqi MP representing Abadi's parliamentary bloc said a Syrian delegation had arrived in Baghdad last week with a letter from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Abadi.

The letter, according to this parliamentarian, who spoke on

     Abadi does not want to be seen as a supporter of the Syrian regime like Nouri al-Maliki.

condition of anonymity, requested that Baghdad "mediate" between Damascus and the international coalition fighting to Islamic State group (IS, formerly ISIS) to open the door for military coordination, especially in regard to the international airstrikes on the organisation in Syria.

According to the MP said Abadi told the delegation, reportedly composed of six Syrian officials, including a senior Foreign Ministry official, that he could not be an intermediary at the present time, as "Iraq is in a situation that does not allow it to perform this role, because Iraq itself needs international mediation to drum up support and get weapons".

An Iraqi minister holding a key government portfolio who also requested anonymity confirmed this information to al-Araby. The minister said that during the meeting, the delegation handed Abadi a letter from Assad, in which the latter praised Abadi's reforms. The Syrian president, according to thsi source, then asked Abadi to act as an intermediary between Damascus and the international coalition by arranging a meeting between the two sides in Baghdad "so Damascus could present important information that could bring the day forward when the IS is no more."

The minister said Abadi justified his refusal by referring to the internal situation in Iraq, but added that Abadi also did not want to be seen as a supporter of the Syrian regime, as his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki had been. He noted this was the second such request by the Syrian regime, after a similar request made by Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad in October 2014.

The minister said that after Abadi declined the request, the Syrian delegation went to Najaf to meet Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's Shia religious authority, most likely in an attempt to get Sistani to pressure Abadi. However, he added, it appeared to have been unsuccessful as "the government received neither a letter nor a call from Sistani on that subject".

In a related development, an Iraqi military official said US aircraft have expanded their reconnaissance flights inside Syria to include Damascus.


This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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