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Nuri al-Maliki: Protector of the Baathists - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In August 2009, against the backdrop of the terrorist bombings that rocked Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki asked the UN Security Council to intervene and form an international criminal court against Syria, which he accused of having a role in the bombings.

On the 4th of September 2009, in front of the diplomatic missions stationed in Baghdad, al-Maliki said that the Iraqi security services monitored a meeting in Zabadani on the 13th of July that year, which “included Baathists and infidels in the presence of Syrian intelligence officers”. Then he added, wondering “why insist on harboring armed organizations, and those wanted by the Iraqi judiciary and Interpol, on Syrian territory? Why allow satellite channels that show how to make bombs and explosives, when they don’t allow the opposition to have a voice?” These were al-Maliki’s words in 2009, but today Iraq’s Prime Minister, a fervent anti-Baathist, says that “the stability of the region as a whole is linked to the stability of Syria and its security”, calling on Iraqi businessmen to work in cooperation with the Syrians!

Is it conceivable that such statements were issued by the same man who said on the 26th of March “Bahrain is different from Libya and Egypt, the issue here is between the Sunnis and Shiites, and when troops from Sunni Arab countries enter Bahrain alongside the Sunni government, this gives Shiites the impression that the Sunnis are ganging up against them”, warning that “the region may be drawn into a sectarian war, and burst into the flames of entrenched sectarianism”.

Unfortunately this is the truth: The Iraqi Prime Minister, who once gave a speech about the danger of the “Baathists”, and the need to pursue them, today announces that the stability of the region as a whole is tied to the stability of the Syrian Baathist regime. Al-Maliki’s statement is a revised version of the statement issued by Rami Makhlouf, who said at the beginning of the uprising that the security of Israel, and its stability, was dependent on Syria’s security. The Syrian regime has not changed, in fact it is worse today than it was the day al-Maliki criticized it, so what has changed for al-Maliki to defend the Syrian Baathist regime today?

The answer is simple of course; it is abhorrent sectarianism. Al-Maliki does not care about the deaths of 1,400 Syrians, or the arrest of 10,000, and even the displacement of 11,000 in Turkey, all he cares about is protecting his sectarian interests. While al-Maliki accuses his opponents of being allies of the Iraqi Baathists, whom his regime refuses to reconcile with under the pretext of “blood on their hands” as he says, we find the same man today desperately defending the Syrian Baathist regime, which al-Maliki once demanded the Security Council to intervene against. After all this how can such a sectarian regime in Iraq be equal and fair to all of the country’s components?

This is a difficult matter because the current Iraqi regime is part of the Iranian axis in the region. It must be noted that al-Maliki’s support for the Syrian Baath party is consistent with Iranian efforts to avoid the downfall of the Damascus regime. A few days before al-Maliki, Hassan Nasrallah emerged also trying to convince the Syrians that they must maintain their regime. The Iranian axis in our region is doing the impossible to remain intact, even if it means that al-Maliki, “the Prime Minister of democratic Iraq”, becomes the protector of the Baathists!

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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