Deep differences between Iraqi PM, FM on Syria strikes

Deep differences between Iraqi PM, FM on Syria strikes
3 min read
16 April, 2018
Baghdad has witnessed a range of differences toward the latest US-UK-France strikes on Syria, a source told The New Arab on Monday.
Iraq's PM and FM have different opinions on the Syria strike [AFP]
"Deep differences" have surfaced between Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari over recent developments in Syria, an Iraqi official suggested on Monday, stressing that Jaafari had taken a political stance that was described as "aligning one axis against the other".

Abadi expressed deep concern about Jaafri's political stand, the official said, creating tension between the pair just a month before the Iraqi government is due to hold elections.

"The foreign minister acted in isolation from the prime minister when he adopted a position that was aligned with the Iranian-Russian camp, that rejects the Western attack on the installations and military sites belonging to the regime," a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office told The New Arab.

The source said that "the Prime Minister had directed at the last meeting to avoid expressing either negative or positive opinions toward the strikes in any form," and noted "Iraq must be careful to ensure that it does not lose any particular parties".

The remarks were made in response to a foreign ministry statement describing the strikes on Syria as "a very dangerous development" in the seven-year conflict.

"Such action could have dangerous consequences, threatening the security and stability of the region and giving terrorism another opportunity to expand after it was ousted from Iraq and forced into Syria to retreat to a large extent," it said.

Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he wants "to keep away" from the conflict between the United States and Iran.

Iraq has maintained good relations with Iran and the United States, both of which assisted Iraqi government forces to recapture Mosul and other cities seized by Islamic State militants in 2014.

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It has also kept good relations with Assad's government in Syria. Monday's comments came as a delegation representing the Syrian regime visited Baghdad for the third day in a row to meet with political and militia leaders in Baghdad and Najaf, according to officials from the ruling National Alliance and sources close to the Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary group.

On Sunday, the Hashed al-Shaabi slammed Baghdad's weak position on the strikes in neighbouring Syria.

"The position of the Iraqi government on the aggression against Syria depends on its relationship with the United States," Haneen Qado, the leader of the Conquest Alliance (the political front for the Hashed al-Shaabi) said, noting it was "weak, despite Baghdad's assertion to not allow the use of Iraqi airspace to strike Syria".

The Iraq Report is a weekly feature at The New Arab.

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