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Iran orders Iraqi Allies to support Syrian Regime financially | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- A prominent source in the Iraqi National Alliance [INA], which is in alliance with the State of Law Coalition [SLC] led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, has disclosed that “Iran pressured its allies in Baghdad into supporting the Syrian authorities with $10 billion” and pointed out that “Al-Maliki yielded to this Iranian demand and actually supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad financially.”

The leading source in the INA told Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Baghdad: “Iranian Ambassador in Baghdad Hassan Danaifar conveyed verbal messages from Islamic Revolution Guide Ali Khamenei and Al-Quds Corps Commander General Qassem Suleimani to the INA leaders separately that included the need to support the Syrian president financially with a sum set at $10 billion.” It added that “the demand came in the form of orders which Al-Maliki accepted in his capacity as the leader of the Iraqi Government.”

The source revealed that “some INA members objected to the total sum and not the principle of helping President Al-Assad but the Iranian ambassador informed them that he was not authorized to discuss the issue and his task was to convey the message from high-level Iranian religious and political quarters.” It added that “we in the INA are embarrassed because the Iraqi people are suffering from acute economic crises while we agree to pay $10 billion to rescue the Syrian president from his ordeal because of the international sanctions imposed on him.”

The Iranian five-member committee tasked with following up the Iraqi dossier which is supervised by Guide Khamenei took several measures to use the Iraqi resources to back the Syrian regime. According to the INA source, the “Iranian ambassador created for the INA the suitable formula for backing the Syrian regime by having the funds paid within the context of the economic agreements that were concluded and activated between Baghdad and Damascus at the end of last week.”

Syrian Economy and Trade Minister Muhammad Nidal al-Shaar concluded last week a visit to Iraq during which he met Prime Minister Al-Maliki and also several Iraqi ministers which resulted in the signing of several economic agreements. According to the statement issued by his office, Al-Maliki asserted during his meeting with the Syrian minister “the Iraqi Government’s desire to develop commercial and economic cooperation with Syria in all fields in the interests of the two fraternal peoples.”

On his part, Hashim Hatim, director general of foreign economic relations at the Iraqi Trade Ministry, denied that “Iraq has signed more agreements with Syria at this particular time when it is facing internal troubles.” He said in statements to Asharq Al-Awsat earlier this week that “most of the agreements that were signed now between Iraq and Syria have existed since the 1970’s and all we did was activate some of them and alter others due to the change in Iraqi economic policies from centrally-controlled one as it was under the former regime to the market economy.”

According to the INA source, the “Iraqi Government concluded new agreements and activated old ones with Syria, including three agreements in the health, trade, and investment fields, and paid $10 billion in implementation of a purely Iranian will.”

As to the interaction of Al-Maliki’s crisis with the other blocs allied with him in the INA, the source asserted that “Al-Maliki fears his disagreements with his allies will cause a rift in the alliance and hence will lose his battle to keep his post and therefore sought the help of Tehran to pressure the other Shiite parties into having a dialogue and committing themselves to backing him.” It pointed out that “Suleimani tasked their ambassador in Baghdad to carry out this duty.” The source also disclosed that “Iranian Amb. Danaifar is one of the prominent officers in the Quds Corps and worked in the Iranian Revolution’s guards as official in charge of relations between the guards and the opposition Shiite parties that were based in Iran. I personally met him several times at that time and during the phase of coordination between the Iranian authorities and Iraqi opposition leaders whom Danaifar knew personally, among them Al-Maliki whom he met in Damascus and Tehran. They are bound by close ties.” He pointed out that “this explains Al-Maliki’s eagerness to visit Danaifar in hospital when he had a minor accident before two weeks. There is nothing in protocol which says the prime minister ought to visit the ambassador of a neighboring country as this is the prerogative of the foreign ministry’s relations department.”

The INA leader also revealed that a delegation led by an Al-Dawa Party leader and a prominent Al-Maliki adviser visited Iran recently and said “the delegation returned from Tehran with Iranian proposals for supporting Al-Assad’s regime.”

It is recalled that the Iraqi Government has large sums of money deposited in Syrian banks about which there was no talk during the Syrian commercial delegation’s recent visit to Baghdad. Observers believed these funds would stay there at present to support the Syrian authorities.

On his part, Khalid al-Asadi, the SLC deputy in the House of Representatives, has denied that “Iraq has backed the Syrian regime with $10 billion” adding “this report is baseless.” He told Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Baghdad that “Iraq needs money to improve its situation so how can it contribute $10 billion to Syria. Moreover, the Syrian Government does not need any financial aid.” He pointed out that “Iraq is bound to Syria by good ties. It is a neighboring country and the Syrian people are our brothers. We wish they unite and Syria remains strong.”