Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki to use dialogue to resolve the ongoing conflict in Anbar Province. He was speaking at a news conference on Monday following his arrival in Baghdad for an official visit.
The UN chief said: “I urge the leaders of this country to deal with the roots of the problems,” adding that he condemned all attacks which targeted civilians. He called on all political leaders to unite in their stand against terrorism and work together to restore stability in the country.
Maliki, meanwhile, dismissed calls for dialogue in the Anbar Province, saying that there could be no negotiations with insurgents linked to Al-Qaeda.
“Talk about dialogue in Al-Anbar is rejected because we do not hold dialogue with Al-Qaeda,” he said, adding that the conflict in Anbar had united Iraqis in their fight against the terrorist group.
Militants overran the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah in Iraq’s western province of Anbar last week. Many of the insurgents are reported to be members of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been blamed for a growing number of bombings across the country.
Maliki also said Iraq would participate in a donors’ conference for Syria to be held in Kuwait on January 15.
He said he “appreciated the stands of the Security Council and the United Nations in their support for Iraq in its war on terror.”
MP Mohamad Al-Shabki, a member of the foreign relations committee of the Iraqi parliament, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is in the interest of the world to stand with Iraq in its war against terror, because terrorism is a global problem and therefore what Iraq is doing now in confronting this armed group [ISIS] is on behalf of the world as a whole.”
“Al-Qaeda strikes every day in different places such as Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and even Russia, and this needs much more than making statements,” he added, calling for an international conference to be held “in order to put forward specific mechanisms” to confront the organization.
The speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Osama Al-Nujaifi, is to visit the United States later next week to “discuss the current situation in Iraq, especially in Anbar,” according to a statement by his office.
The statement said Nujaifi will “discuss with policy makers, institutions and strategic studies centers, the issue of democratic change in Iraq.”
Mohamed Al-Khalidi, the secretary of the parliament and a leading figure in Nujaifi’s Mutahidoun Coalition—which opposes Maliki —told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the US administration and American decision makers hold fears for what is happening in Iraq these days.”
Khalidi said: “The Anbar crisis will be at the top of the agenda, especially as what is taking place is not a new problem but something which we had warned about, because it is a result of wrong policies followed by the Iraqi government in dealing with the Sunni constituent in general, and dealing with the protests when the government removed the tents and arrested MP Ahmad Al-Alwani.”
“Nujaifi will present the US administration with comprehensive visions of effective solutions for the crisis,” he added. “[I expect] the Americans to intervene strongly in the coming period in Iraqi affairs after losing control, which threatens the project in Iraq for which they expended lot of effort.”
The UN Secretary-General is expected to arrive in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan on Tuesday, Kurdish sources have announced, to hold meetings with the President of the Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, to discuss the political situation in Iraq.