Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced a new, eight-point initiative Wednesday [Sept. 4] to solve the Syrian crisis. The initiative includes compelling the regime, as well as the opposition, to bring the fighting to an immediate halt. It also proposes holding “a dialogue between the regime and the opposition under international and Arab supervision, in addition to the refusal of foreign intervention in Syrian affairs and any military operation targeting the state and Syrian lands.”
Meanwhile, the Iraqiya list, headed by Ayad Allawi, accused unnamed figures and parties of “working according to an Iranian agenda,” since they are opposed to the strike against the Syrian regime. The Maliki-led State of Law Coalition, however, called on “aligning in anticipation of the repercussions of the worsening of the Syrian situation.”
During his weekly speech, Maliki said, “We are setting forth a new initiative before Arab leaders to solve the Syrian crisis, as part of our duty toward an issue pertaining to Arab national security at a critical historical turning point.”
Maliki explained that the initiative is comprised of eight points: “A call for an immediate and comprehensive cease-fire throughout all Syrian territory; the cessation of operations providing money and arms to any party of the conflict; the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Syrian lands; providing support to the neutral investigation conducted by the United Nations regarding the use of chemical weapons; a refusal of foreign intervention in Syrian affairs and any military operation targeting the state and Syrian lands; a commitment to not using Arab lands to strike Syria or any other country; the establishment of an Arab fund to support the return of displaced Syrians and the reconstruction of Syria; compelling both the regime and the opposition to launch direct negotiations, with a timeline and under Arab and international supervision, and setting a road map for free elections in Syria, followed by a peaceful rotation of power.
“Our national and moral duty leads us to reiterate, at this historic moment, that we support the right of the Syrian people to determine their fate without foreign intervention. Everyone should take their hands off of Syria and stop providing arms to either of the parties to the conflict,” Maliki said, adding, “History will not have mercy on us if we encourage a military attack against any Arab country or any member of the Arab League. Our people will be embarrassed by our stance when the aggression occurs, and we only content ourselves with verbal denunciation and meaningless statements, while we have already supported military action and given it the green light through actions, money and political decisions.”
Maliki continue: “Our brothers — the leaders of Arab countries and their peoples — should not forget that supporting a military strike against Syria will set a precedent that [can be] enforced on all Arab countries. If we accepted the strike on Syria, we would be legitimizing any prospective aggression and accepting the conducting of strikes against Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, Yemen and all other Arab countries without exception. This is something we do not wish to befall any Arab country.”
“When the conflict worsened and news emerged about the use of chemical weapons, which is internationally prohibited, we denounced this criminal act and considered it to be a crime against humanity, regardless of the party responsible. We called on conducting a neutral investigation to determine the responsible party and hold it accountable.”
Maliki expressed his surprise at “the stance of some countries, which, like Iraq, were burned by the heat of terrorism, and at this flagrant disparity in stances. How can we fight terrorism in our country while supporting and reinforcing it in another?”
Maliki asked: “Didn’t al-Qaeda attack New York ... as well as Paris, Madrid, London, Algeria, Riyadh, Yemen and Egypt? Didn’t it carry out car bombings and kill Iraqi civilians in markets, mosques and universities?”
Maliki recalled the “Baghdad Declaration” that the government presented during the annual Arab Summit held in Baghdad in 2012. He said, “[The declaration] represents a just solution to the Syrian crisis,” noting that “the document expressed our visions toward the crisis, our official stance and our early interpretation of the risks imposed by the continuity [of the crisis]. It suggested a peaceful solution that keeps Syria away from the bloodshed that has come to pass in the past two years.”
On the other side, Haidar al-Mulla, an MP for the Iraqiya list, said in a media conference on Sept. 4, “Our stance is always to support the people, not the regimes. That is why we are opposed to the use of military force against the Syrian people, since we experienced American stupidity on the Iraqi scene.”
He added, “Some Iraqi political parties and figures constituted a lobby group and began making political moves prior to 2003, to convince the US to strike Iraq and topple the former political regime,” noting that “these same figures are now opposed to the use of force against Syria.”
He continued, “There is a disparity in the stance of these parties, since they are working according to an Iranian agenda and are in harmony with it.” Mulla said, “The strike on Syria is not in favor of the Iranian regime, because it wants to act freely.”
“Being stuck in Iran’s orbit is the main reason behind the current decay of Iraq,” Mulla stressed.
Mulla expressed his surprise in regard to the decisions taken by the Basra and Karbala councils, which prohibit Mulla from being hosted in the departments of these provinces. Mulla reiterated his objection to photos of Iranian leaders being hung in the streets of Baghdad and other provinces.
The parliamentary session of last week witnessed a heated dispute between Shiite and Sunni MPs, following Mulla’s demand that photos of Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Khamenei be removed from the streets. A committee headed by former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was formed to investigate this issue.
Hussein al-Safi, an MP for the State of Law Coalition, said on Sept. 4 that Mulla’s statement instigates “sectarianism.” He told Al-Hayat, “Today, we desperately need to align together and leave sectarian disputes behind, especially given that the region would witness dangerous developments if a military intervention in Syria occurred.” He added, “The timing of sectarian escalation on the part of the Iraqiya list is intentional and aimed at deteriorating the political situation in the country and shuffling the cards.”