Syria tells US to leave Iraq to end violence
* Says violence erupted directly after American occupation
DUBAI: A Syrian official called in remarks published on Wednesday for the United States to withdraw from Iraq, saying the problem of terror attacks had arisen only since US-led forces occupied the country.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bushra Kanfani told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Damascus was not optimistic about US-Syrian ties in the short term and urged Washington to engage in dialogue instead of making demands.
“The problem is America, not Syria. America must be more objective, because when it entered Iraq there was no terrorism and now there is the problem of terrorism and of Al Qaeda and the matter has changed from one of weapons of mass destruction and toppling a regime to a new one of terrorism,” Kanfani said. “America must accept the reality that it is no longer in its interest to continue this way in Iraq. They must hand over power to other parties whose behaviour is more acceptable to Iraqis and bring Iraq closer to regaining its sovereignty and holding free elections and then the problems will end,” she said.
“We are doing what we can (to stop militants crossing the border) and I think there are many claims which are incorrect and which serve as a political cover for the instability inside Iraq and lack of control. The occupation power has electronic devices and satellites which offer more than we have, so why don’t they guard their borders?”
“The problem is there is no objective and fruitful dialogue... The issue is not for America to come with a list of demands, but for us to sit and talk objectively far away from dictates to reach common grounds. This is what we ask for.”
Meanwhile, Iraq’s Governing Council, during a visit to Australia, claimed that thousands of terrorists have entered their country to launch deadly attacks against them.
But despite the growing death toll among American military personnel, the US-led coalition must remain in Iraq to help it emerge from decades of dictatorship and rebuild an economy ravaged by sanctions and war, interim Agriculture Minister Abdul Amir al Aboud said.
“Nobody would like an occupation force to be in the country, but we need them to stay there,” al Aboud told reporters. “If they leave now, it would be chaos.”
“We regret that terrorists are using Iraq to settle scores with the US,” Naseer al Chaderchi, a member of the Sunni National Democratic Party, told reporters through an interpreter at a briefing organised by Australia’s foreign ministry. “Thousands of terrorists came to Iraq and they are doing these acts,” he said.
Britain’s Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon also voiced concern over Iraq’s security situation on Wednesday. “In most parts of Iraq and in most parts of Baghdad the security situation is very calm,” Hoon told British Broadcasting Corp radio. But he said the “security situation ... in and around Baghdad continues to be a cause for concern. ... We have to continue to bear down on those who are continuing to attack coalition forces.” —Reuters/AP