Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat – Iraq’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary, Lubaid Abbawi, denied that ties had been cut between Iraq and Syria. He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “There is no severance [of ties] between the two countries.”
Abbawi stated that the decision to summon the Iraqi ambassador to Syria was “a normal thing, especially when there is an issue or a problem that requires discussing with our ambassadors. Therefore, our ambassador to Syria was summoned so that discussions could be held on the latest developments in accordance with the cabinet’s decision and with diplomatic norms that are practiced internationally.”
Regarding the demand made by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry to Syria to extradite suspects of the latest bombings in Iraq, Abbawi said, “In accordance with the cabinet’s decision that Syria must hand over the two people embroiled in the crime that took place, I entrusted the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice with preparing the files, knowing that Mohammed Yunis al Ahmed has a record and is wanted by the Iraqi authorities. This is nothing new.” Moreover, Abbawi highlighted that “Iraq will take the legal course in order to get the people involved in these incidents. We will present their files to Syria as soon as they are ready.”
It is worth mentioning that the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Wednesday criticised Iraq’s accusation that it was harbouring those responsible for the latest bombings in Baghdad.
In a statement it said: “Damascus is committed to all the agreements signed with Iraq on regulating security situations.
“The United States of America knows very well that Syria had nothing to do with what happened, and this shall not, in any way, affect the American agenda to Damascus, and even the Iraqi government itself knows that these accusations are false.”
Furthermore, the statement clarified that Syria shall not reinstate its ambassador to Iraq until the situation settles and Iraq takes a similar step. The statement also highlighted Syria’s support for anything that will preserve Iraq’s security and safety.
On its part, the US, through its State Department, called on Baghdad and Damascus to engage in dialogue. It pointed out that diplomatic dialogue was the best way to deal with the concerns of both parties, and that everybody is hoping that such an incident will not affect the dialogue proposed on behalf of the United States.
In a related context, spokesman for the Iraqi government, Ali al Dabbagh, reiterated Thursday what he had previously told Asharq Al-Awsat that in order for Iraq to normalize ties with Syria, the latter must first extradite the two suspects.
Al Dabbagh told AFP, “Iraq gave Syria a list a few times during bilateral security committees but we always received evasive answers. Iraq will not accept this kind of situation.”
He added, “We will ask for those suspects to be handed over to us via the United Nations and through our bilateral relations that is if Syria wants to maintain good relations with us.” He told AFP, “Our relations with Syria have reached a crossroads of whether they choose to have good relations with Iraq, or whether they choose to protect persons who attack Iraq.”
On August 23, the Iraqi authorities showed a confession tape by a senior official of the dissolved Baath party, from Mohammed Yunis al Ahmed’s wing, in which he claimed responsibility for the suicide attacks that targeted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance last Wednesday on the orders of his superior Sattam Farhan, who lives in Syria.
Moreover, Iraq accused what it called “a satanic alliance” between members of the dissolved Baath party and members of the “Islamic State of Iraq” (the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda) of carrying out the attacks.
In response to these accusations, Syria stated that it would was waiting to receive an Iraqi delegation that would provide it with available evidence on the authors of the attacks and explained that if this did not happen, it would consider everything that has been published in Iraqi media nothing but “fabricated evidence” for internal political purposes.