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Al Maliki: Who are These “Neighboring Countries?” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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If Baghdad had the courage to announce its desire to buy a squadron of F-16 fighter jets on the grounds of the potential threat from Iran and Syria following the US withdrawal [from Iraq], so why wouldn’t the Iraqi Prime Minister reveal the identity of the “neighboring countries” that he threatened the day before yesterday?

The Iraqi Prime Minister has been threatening these “neighboring countries” without actually naming them for a long time now, and anyone that looks at a map can see that there is no country bordering Iraq called “neighboring countries.” Therefore, is it reasonable for Baghdad to name Syria and Iran in order to justify its arms deal, but not name [these “neighboring countries”] that are a threat its security?

During a gathering of tribal elders in Baghdad Al Maliki said “[you must] stop those that cause harm to Iraq until Iraq no longer needs to defend itself.” He added “[you must] announce a desire for affection and love and positive relationships until Iraq is racing after this….take a step towards us and we will open our arms to you.”

Is this talk solely to resolve the outstanding political issues with some of Baghdad’s neighboring Arab countries, as well as citing a basis for the Al Maliki government’s lack of commitment to the promises and pledges that it made with regards to reconciliation, and prioritizing Iraqi interests over those of Iran, or are there other reasons [for this talk]?

It is interesting that Al Maliki made this statement addressing the Southern Iraqi tribes who are concerned with Iraq’s Arab identity, and its territorial unity. It is also worth noting that the arrest of a Saudi member of Al Qaeda, along with a number of his aides [in Basra] was announced on the same day [as the tribal meeting] and that the aides described their nationality as being Arab, and did not identify their home country. And so what is the meaning of this?

What is imperative here is that we find out where they were trained, who financed them, and how they entered into Iraq, especially since Saudi Arabia has announced a massive project to secure its long border with Iraq. There is a big difference between a terrorist belonging to a country, and a state that sponsors terrorism.

Another example is Jordan, which suffered and continues to suffer from terrorists coming from Iraq, and Egypt [now] finds itself facing Muqtada al-Sadr who came out in favor of Hezbollah’s actions in Egypt, so who should stay stop your evil [actions] towards us?

A senior Iraqi official familiar with the details of what is going on inside Iraq informed me that Al Maliki’s words are aimed at “brainwashing Iraqis through the media by inciting against neighboring Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, as well as…Egypt, as the first target.” The official added that it was “no secret that sensitive Iraqi security organs have been infiltrated by the Iranians, which is something the Americans announced previously, and something that the Iraqis know on the ground, therefore there is an attempt to occupy Iraqi public opinion [to believe] that the enemy is the Arab states, and no others.”

If Al Maliki wants to resolve the political issues in the region, then threatening and accusing is not the ideal language [to do this], otherwise what is the difference between Iraq under Saddam Hussein, and Iraq under Nuri Al Maliki? However if the story is solely the targeting of Arab countries, then this is a strategic mistake that will have dire consequences for Iraq.