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Iraqi VP Confirms Al Qaeda Behind Baghdad Bombing | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Asharq Al-Awsat- An Iraqi delegation is expected to meet with a Syrian delegation in Turkey later today to put forward evidence linking the recent Baghdad bombings to [Baathist] elements being sheltered by Syria. The Baghdad bombing which took place on 19 August resulted in 95 people being killed, and many more being injured.

This meeting comes in the midst of objections raised by the Iraqi Presidency Council regarding the Iraqi government accusing Syria of harboring elements responsible for the attack, as well as the decision by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri a-Maliki to call for an International Tribunal to investigate this attack.

A diplomatic crisis has broken out between Iraq and Syria in the wake of the Baghdad bombing, and both countries recalled their respective ambassadors. The Iraqi ambassador to Syria had previously said that Baathist elements being sheltered by Damascus were responsible for the bombing, and had called on Syria to surrender them to Iraq.

Iraqi Vice President, Adel Abdul-Mahdi released a statement via his media office saying that “escalation with Syria unjustified, and the presence of Baathists there is not something new.” Abdul-Mahdi described the steps being taken by the Iraqi government as “an attempt to cover up the obvious weaknesses in its security apparatus, and obstruct the investigation demanded by the parliamentary Defense and Security Committee.”

In a meeting with a number of Iraqi politicians and media figures held Monday evening, Abdul-Mahdi said that “the investigation conducted by the Iraqi authorities’ points to Al Qaeda involvement” in the Baghdad bombing which has been dubbed “Bloody Wednesday.”

Abdul-Mahdi was astounded by the position taken by Prime Minister al-Maliki, and said “It is unbelievable for the Council of Ministers to sign a strategic agreement with Syria, and then one day later declare what appears to be war, and then after that internationalize the case without the Prime Minister being aware of the majority of these things, therefore it was the right of the Iraqi Presidency Council to intervene according to the Constitution and put a stop to such excesses.”

The head of Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s office, Dr. Laith Shubbar told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone that “the vice president is for the development of constitutional institutes in Iraq, and against the separation of power.” He added “these proposals are not just concerned with Nuri al-Maliki’s government, but also with the former government, and the next one.”

Shubbar said “There are attempts to withdraw the powers of the Iraqi Presidency Council which were granted in the Constitution, and that these are powers that balance the situation and the political process. The system of government in Iraq is parliamentary and constitutional, and one which does not grant complete power to any official in order to prevent a monopolization of power.”

Shubbar added “Retreating from what was granted by the Constitution in this case is an attempt to separate power and authority, and would represent a dangerous retraction [from the Constitution] and a step backwards”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Baghdad, Shubbar said “The Office of the Vice Presidency was one of the first to be proposed. With regards to our statements which have been published on the Iraqi Presidency Council website and in the media with regards to the formation of an international tribunal to investigate the bombing which claimed the lives of innocent Iraqis and which there are calls to describe as a crime against humanity, no accusation should be made against any country until the investigation has been concluded and the involved parties in the terrorist activities that threaten the security of Iraqis have been confirmed.”

Shubbar also revealed that “the government escalation towards Syria, the demands that an international tribunal be formed, and the accusations [made against Syria] of harboring elements involved in the recent bombings, and the other Iraqi procedures, all took place without the knowledge of, or coordination with, the Iraqi Presidency Council, which according to the Constitution, is equivalent to the Senate.”

This indicates that these actions “embarrassed the Iraqi Presidency Council which forced the Council to meet in the Dukan resort (As Sulaymaniyah Province) and send a letter to the Prime Minster which called for him to take the decision to activate the Executive Committee which was instituted in the political reform agreement that was agreed at the same time as the US – Iraqi agreement.”

In his meeting with Iraqi politicians and media figures, Abdul-Mahdi stressed that “anyone who believes that the Iraqi Presidency Council’s power is ceremonial is mistaken, and the Constitution is clear on this issue. The powers of the Iraqi Presidency Council are no different than the powers and role played by the Senate in the US, and so just as the executive branch has the constitutional right to propose bills in parliament, this is also applicable to the Iraqi Presidency Council.” However Abdul-Mahdi added “Unfortunately, I will say that, the executive branch has attempted to obstruct the work of the Iraqi Presidency Council at all stages.”

Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abawi also told Asharq Al-Awsat via telephone from Baghdad that the Iraqi delegation that is headed to Ankara “carries with it documents and evidence that confirms the involvement of Iraqi groups present in Syria in the Baghdad bombing, and [other] armed operations.”

For his part, Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Musa announced that he would participate in a “political meeting” on Thursday in Istanbul to follow up consultations on settling the Iraqi – Syrian crisis. Musa told the press that this meeting that would include Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, and aims to “calm the issue down and support the movement towards dialogue between Iraq and Syria.”

Last Wednesday, a meeting between Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa, took place on the sidelines of the Meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers conference in Cairo. Following this meeting, a second meeting was scheduled for the parties involved to be held in Ankara to continue their efforts to bring an end to the Syrian – Iraqi tensions.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is also scheduled to pay an official visit to Ankara on Wednesday in order to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, on the peace process in the Middle East.