Published on 28 Feb 2012

Iraq fears Syria overthrow more than Iran war

It is always fascinating how different things look when you change your perspective. I’ve been having some intriguing conversations in the last few days with the Shia-led Iraqi government for my Unreported World documentary in April. As I’ve mentioned before Iraq has dropped its support for President Assad’s regime in Syria but still is very nervous about his possible downfall. The switch comes just before Iraq hosts the Arab League Summit in March, and the government is trying to get closer to countries like Saudi Arabia. But a senior government source told me today that they strongly fear a sectarian war between Assad’s Allawi Shias and Sunnis in Syria could spill over into Iraq – causing more bombings and restart the sectarian killings in Iraq of five years ago. They also strongly oppose international military intervention saying the West cannot repeat the Libyan model in Syria and warn a Syrian revolution could let Al Qaeda move in there.

Given the close relations between Prime Minister Malaki and Iran you might expect his government to be fiercely opposed to military action there by the West. But Iraq is trying to stay neutral – insisting it can be friends with both sides if it comes to a fight between Washington and Tehran. Airstrikes on Iran, I was told, would not affect Iraq nearly as badly as civil war in Syria.

Of course it is worth remembering that in what America calls the Sunni Triangle here in Iraq there is enthusiastic support for the Free Syrian Army. There have been reports of arms going back across the border from Iraq to Syria – and tribal meetings this week to decide how they can support the overthrow. So as ever “Iraq” is an inadequate word when describing this country’s position on anything.


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9 reader comments

  1. Germar says:

    The current conflict in Syria is a perfect example to learn how international politics work. First it shows how national interests dominate all countries involved. That goes for Iraq as it goes for Europe. If there is no interest or gain, there is no reason for intervention. That brings me to my second lesson to learn. The permanent UN security council members are split over the question whether or not to intervene. This means nothing will happen, as long as Russia and China don’t budge. I am afraid this will not change any time soon. That leaves the US the only country capable of stopping this carnage. Europe remains a toothless tiger and considering dwindling defence budgets, ten years involvement in Afghanistan, and a lack of political will to change this situation, does not provide much hope for the Syrians to receive help from outside.

    1. worldtuner says:

      First should the Syrians receive outside help? it start with a little demonstration and esculated from there, the same as the demonstrations in the UK which could had also turned nasty if British citizens carried guns, Ireland proves a point, the British were very heavy handed in dealing with the Irish uprising which ended with thousands being killed, the Irish were funded by our ouwn allies the Americans, So how did so many Syrians get so many weapons are they being supported by sercet black operation teams.
      Secondly we do not really understand the Arab situation, yes we read media reports and then judge by using our own way of life which of course doen’t suit all people and all nations, what should the Syrian government do, the same as any other government quell the demonstration and what should the Syria government if the police are shot at, just stand there! no they must meet force with force to contain the situation, I cringe when I heard last night the Syrian girl with Jon saying the rebels should be armed by outside governments, this only esculates the situation just what the Americans want, have we not already seen the mess the Americans have made in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, the wasted lives, the destruction, the burning of the Koran, is this the type of democracy we want to give the Arab people.

  2. Muhammad says:

    Nice analysis Krishnan. Perhaps this dispels the myth that Maliki has a special relationship with Iran. Iraq’s politicians are by and large staunch nationalists.

  3. Philip Edwards says:


    In case you have any illusions left, check this out:

    You don’t get much more impeccable sources than this.

  4. peter from bristol says:

    Krish, good reporting on Middle Eastern politics I shall look forward to seeing Unreported World when it comes out in April.

  5. Sallyannerogers says:

    I hope there is no war

    1. Worldtuner says:

      Yes most hope there’s not another American invasion into an Arab state again, but this year is American election year and Obama in down in the polls, one thing the Americans do not like is changing a president at the start of a “war”, so it’s possible the speech by Obama maybe to boost he’s flagging poll conditions. The loss of Arab lives to gain a second term in office as no pity with the white house or voters.

  6. Worldtuner says:

    It’s possible Iraq made this statement because of the now influence and pressure of the American presents in it’s country, after all the Americans put this new Iraqi government into power, yet tugging at the Iraqis hearts is the knowledge that the Syrians are after all Arabs the same as themselves, having lived in South Korea for 10 years everytime there was beating of the American war drums against the North, there was never no fear or panic among the South Koreans, yet the American civilians would leave the country in their droves at the slightest rumbling from the white house, what I’m saying here is that the American government put fear into the hearts of the Western media with their bias views and threats, but in reality on the ground there is no such anguish.

  7. Caliban says:

    The Middle East has been a basket case for a thousand years. They have enormous riches pouring out of the ground, and they have still managed to make a complete mess of it.

    From what I have seen so far of the Arab Spring they are well on the way to another thousand years in exactly the same basket.

    Replacing religion with enlightenment values would fix everything – in other words, they are toast.

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