Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Kamal al-Saadi, a high-ranking member of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s Dawa party, has stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that Syria’s rejection and indifference to evidence put forward by Baghdad during recent meetings has led to the collapse of talks between the two countries.
He clarified that this Syrian position “is not linked with the bombings that took place in the country, but is linked to the general situation in Iraq, particularly since Syria has imposed a number of conditions on the American side, and it wants to reach a conclusion regarding these, especially with regards to [the US] relationship with Israel, [the issue of] the Golan Heights, as well as the international position towards Syria, and the financial support that it receives.”
Al-Saadi, who is close to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, added “There is also Syria’s desire to have a presence within the new regime in Iraq, via one of the wings of the Baathist party (the Izzat al-Douri wing or the Mohamed Younis al-Ahmed wing).” Al-Saadi said that this indicated that “this Syrian position is not just linked to the Iraqi evidence, but is dependent upon the general state of the country.”
As for Iraq’s desire to establish an international tribunal to investigate the “Bloody Wednesday” bombings which took place in Baghdad, and the Samarra explosion of 2006, al-Saadi told Asharq Al-Awsat “we are not talking about an international tribunal, but we have called for the formation of an international commission of inquiry to investigate the evidence put forward by Iraq. In the event of the [UN] Security Council expanding the international commission of inquiry, and calling for the forming an international tribunal…this will be up to the Security Council alone.”
Al-Saadi confirmed “that the case that is being put forward for international investigation is concerned solely with the ‘Bloody Wednesday’ bombing which took place on 19 August 2009 in Baghdad and which resulted in hundreds of dead and wounded, and Iraq believes its perpetrators are living in Syria, and it demands that they be handed over.”
Al-Saadi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “dialogue with the Syrian side appears to have reached a standstill, despite the existence of private channels [of communication] working to resolve the issue.” However he reaffirmed that “Iraq is sticking to its demands, and will not give them up.”
For his part, Ali al-Moussawi, media adviser to the Iraqi Prime Minister, described the dialogue with Syria as “not serious.” He also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraq “has no disagreements with Syria, but the latter [Syria] showed a lack of seriousness in its dialogue with Iraq, and did not meet the government’s demands to hand over those involved in the events of Bloody Wednesday.”
Al-Moussawi stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is a group involved in many security events that took place in Iraq, who are located in Syria; we have demanded that they be handed over after the [Iraqi] government provided all the evidence that confirms this group’s involvement in many of the bombings which have affected the Iraqi people.”
Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister, Labid al-Abawi, confirmed that the dialogue with Syria had not failed and was ongoing. He informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “it cannot be said that the dialogue failed or stopped, but we can say that the meetings did not lead to any results, especially as the four meetings which took place witnessed rejections from the Syrian side to everything put forward by Iraq, with regards to evidence of the involvement of Baathist elements located in Syria [in the Bloody Wednesday attack].”
Al-Abawi added “we have put forward our point of view on the mediators [of the Syrian – Iraqi dialogue], and we have asked that they take a positive role with regards to moving the dialogue towards [achieving] concrete results.”
Al-Abawi also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Iraqi side did not withdraw from the dialogue and that it welcomes any initiative and serious considerations towards Iraq’s demands” although he added “at the same time we are involved in the issue of forming an international commission of inquiry via the Security Council, which in turn would appoint a special envoy who is capable of investigation and studying the evidence put forward by Iraq, as well as investigate the extent of the [Syrian] interference in Iraqi affairs”
Iraq and Syria held meetings in Cairo, Istanbul, and New York, under the patronage of Turkey and the Arab League.