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No Beards between Iraq and Syria - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I do not understand the Iraqi insistence of accusing Damascus and pursuing international escalation against Syria, following the fatal Baghdad bombings that took place as a result of a major security breach, something beyond the ability of the terrorist groups. I particularly do not understand the Iraqis saying that they will not accept this issue being resolved, such as by Baws al-Lahi [kissing of the beard; traditional Arab political gesture or greeting which denotes forgiveness or friendship]. As for the dispute that is taking place today, all information indicates that it would be political suicide and madness for Damascus to carry out this [attack], or allow it to be launched from within its territory, whether by Al Qaeda or the Baathists.

Syria is trying to arrange its political situation in the Arab world and internationally, and has taken steps in Lebanon. Some would describe these steps as being insufficient, however they are concessionary, particularly to those who follow the Syrian line. Confirmed information also indicates that there is a considerable disagreement between Syria and Hezbollah, although both parties are keeping the door open for reconcilement. The regional scene is complex; Hezbollah cannot predict the future in Iran, while Syria’s political dish is still only half-cooked.

It would also not be rational for Damascus to allow the Baathists to attack from within Syrian territory, especially as the Americans have now opened up channels of negotiation with the Iraqi Baathists via Turkey, which is now Syria’s most important ally.

So how could the Syrians allow the Baathists to undertake something as complex as the Baghdad bombing?

This would only serve to put Syria in a dangerous international predicament. Even if Syrian interests call for the end of any pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad, because Damascus does not want to find itself surrounded by [pro-Iranian] Iraq on one side, and Hezbollah’s Lebanon on the other, any act of sabotage at this level is an act of madness.

Therefore, the Iraqi threat of calling for an international court, along the lines of the Hariri tribunal, to investigate Damascus, is akin to a declaration of war on Syria by Baghdad. All indications seem to point that the major beneficiaries of the Baghdad bombings are [Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki’s rivals, who are also allies of Iran, and here we must not forget the new Iraqi Shiite coalition [the Iraqi National Alliance].

If the Baathists were able to penetrate Iraqi security in the manner of the Baghdad bombings, the Iraqi Prime Minister would surely already have been amongst the victims. Therefore the political escalation seen today against Syria seems to be a warning to Damascus, perhaps from Tehran, otherwise how could Iran accept this kind of escalation against its Syrian ally?

What is important today in the Arab world is that we do not sit down and say, let the Syrians reap what they have sown, for Syrian stability is more important than disagreements, and the destabilization of Damascus will be larger and worse than what we have witnessed today. Syria suffers from a poor geographical location that cleaves us with a river of chaos that flows from Iran via Iraq through Syria and which settles in Lebanon, not to mention that the most prominent of those waiting on the banks of this river of doom are Tehran’s allies in the region, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, who are waiting for the right moment to strike against Damascus, even if this moment is created by Iran.

What is required is an end to the violence in Iraq, and stability in Lebanon with Syrian non-interference. As for the Iraqis, they must understand that the solution to their problems lies in their own hands, not in the hands of their Arab neighbors.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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