Iraqi Government Rejects US Strike on Syria, Fears Civil War

In his speech on Saturday on the Syria crisis, President Obama instanced Iraq among the countries that might suffer if the Baath regime were allowed to get away with using chemical weapons.

The elected government of Iraq, however, says thanks but no thanks. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki categorically rejects a Western strike on Syria. Sectarian struggles lie behind this reaction.

The Iraqi government has announced that it won’t permit the US to fly over Iraqi territory in the course of any operation against Syria.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, of the Shiite ‘Islamic Call’ party, has forcefully rejected any outside attack on Syria. His government is said to fear that a US strike on Syria will produce social “chaos” that stretches from the Sunni areas in Syria into Anbar province (with its Sunni majority).

Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari admitted that Iraq was unable to stop the weapons flow from Iran to Syria.

Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the hard line Sadr II bloc among Shiites, completely rejected any Western strike on Syria. Unlike most Iraqi Shiites, al-Sadr supports the Syrian revolution and says Syria should have free and fair elections so as to create a truly representative government. But al-Sadr reminded Syrians of the disasters visited on Iraq by sectarian faction-fighting and by American military occupation, and urged them to avoid both. Al-Sadr called for the Iraqis peacefully to demonstrate against any prospect of a US strike on Syria.

The radical Shiite group Asa’ib ahl al-Haqq threatened retaliation against any US strike.

In contrast, the Iraqiya Party that represents most Iraqi Sunnis is in favor of US military intervention against Syria.

11 Responses

  1. So, of all the major Iraqi political players, Muqtada al-Sadr comes across as the most serious and realistic. That sure isn’t the perception generally transmitted by the press here in the US.

    • I haven’t seen anything about al-Sadr in the American press in years.

      It’s an interesting journey he’s taken.

      It’s not easy to be nuanced in the middle of a war.

  2. In litigation or debate, assigning who gets the burden of proof and burden of going forward usually determines the outcome. All the more so, if the assigner also controls the definitions, terms and allowable framing of the argument.

    It seems that “Washington” has assembled an impressive and expensive and shiny set of hammers and is arguing only about when to swing back and pound something and which hammer to use. What seems to be weak is attention to the complexity of the thing that’s getting pounded, and its environment. Some military officers and analysts are offering nervous disclaimers about the unaccountable catalytic effects of “pinprick diplomacy.” One does not repair the fuel control unit on a Lycoming T-53 turbine engine, with its 11,000 interoperating parts, with a 4-pound sledge, or even a tack hammer and a little cold chisel. One does not dispose of unexploded ordnance by striking the fuse with a glancing blow.

    There’s any number of examples of hammer-blows knocking stuff so far askew that the machinery starts tearing itself up or explodes. And of course there’s the common experience of whacking one’s own hand in the process. As to boys who cry wolf, there are other illustrative fables, including ones about people who search for gas leaks with a cigarette lighter, or smoke in a powder magazine because they so desperately need a cig.

    Chemical weapon use is bad. So was (and still is, from one who is among the many exposed and affected) Agent Orange, so are cluster munitions and fuel-air explosives and nuclear weapons and antipersonnel mines and DU munitions, so is dumping AK-47s and RPGs and 120-mm mortar rounds and “training missions” and stuff into places where people are descending into anomie. link to syriavideo.net No amount of self-proclaimed “authoritative” misdirection, augmented by dogged repetition and presumptive assignment of the burdens, should obscure the proper assignment of those burdens of going forward and of proof that a hammer blow isn’t going to detonate or ignite stuff that will demolish the house, firestorm the neighborhood, and have the neighbors coming around to do vengeance on you… Unless the new First Rule is no longer “do no harm,” but “do what we are armed to do and can get away with behind some faux justification because who are these pipsqueaks to challenge the Juggernaut’s might, stand against even an idiotic set of ‘national interests,’ and aspire to reduce its Freedom of Action ™?”

  3. I’d be interested in a future post by you exploring further the Sunni-Shis divide over Syria and its regional implications.

  4. So if Iraq is physically unable to stop overflights from Iranian civilian aircraft from running men, money and material to Syria, how would it stop American fighter planes?

      • Well, there goes the use of those Iranian bases.

        Wait…what?

        Why would American aircraft overfly Iraq to get to Syria (and western Syria for that matter?)

  5. So when do the Iraqiya party and the Turkish AKP merge to wreak further havoc in the region?

  6. If McCain and Graham are the main ‘hammers’ then the definition of hammer needs rehabilitation. Because those who knowledgably wield hammers know there are thousands of discreet, appropriate, and useful applications, and that there are millions more inappropriate useages. Pedal to the metal is not a permanently survivable phrase. Why are these two quoted as being important? They are the most predictable and least comprehensively aware. Why quote the most limited minds?

  7. There were more bomb attacks in Baghdad targeting mostly Shia areas.

    link to bbc.co.uk

    Iraq has good reason to be worried about more organized attacks from local and foreign extremist Sunni militants. They view a US strike as ultimately helping Al Qaeda type organizations.

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