News

    US General Calls on Syria and Iran to Stop Destabilizing Iraq

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Al Pessin

    The general who commands all U.S. military operations in the Middle East has accused Iran and Syria of continuing to contribute to the problems in Iraq by facilitating the insurgency and meddling in Iraqi politics.

    In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid said Iran and Syria have both been "unhelpful" in Iraq, contributing to the country's instability.

    General Abizaid said Syria allowed foreign insurgents to cross from its territory into Iraq from the beginning of the conflict. And he said although he believes Syria has been trying to do better, he is not convinced that the Syrian government is prepared to completely close the border to insurgents.

    "They have not yet in our view done enough to stop that level of infiltration," said General Abizaid. "Although it's clear they are trying to do something, it remains to be seen how much they will do."

    General Abizaid said Syria has improved its border posts and patrols, and works sometimes with Iraqi and foreign forces on the Iraqi side of the border. But he said he cannot report that the level of infiltration has decreased, and he characterized Syria as still "very unhelpful" in the effort to restore stability to Iraq.

    The general also said Syria has allowed its territory to be used as a base by former Iraqi regime members who are financing and organizing part of the insurgency. He said he is not convinced Syria is ready to stop doing that, even though it handed over a half-brother of Saddam Hussein to Iraqi authorities in recent days.

    General Abizaid also criticized Iran for trying to maximize its political influence in Iraq. But the general, who is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, said he does not expect Iraq's newly elected Shiite Muslim leadership to try to institute an Iran-style religious government, and he says that is not what the majority of the Iraqi people want.

    "The most important message for the Iranians is that Iraq is a free and sovereign nation that will develop its own future," he added. "I think it's inevitable that Iran and Iraq will have a closer relationship certainly than they did back in the days of Saddam. But, on the other hand, I believe Iraq will be drawn more into the orbit of its Arab neighbors than Iran."

    The U.S. commander in the Middle East said Iran continues to conduct what he called "intelligence activities" in Iraq that are a cause of concern, particularly following Iran's support for last year's rebellion led by Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

    General Abizaid also called on other regional nations to help stabilize Iraq. He said Turkey should not be worried about a Kurdish move for independence. He said all Iraqis, including the Kurds, want to keep the country together. And the general called on Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the small Gulf States to take steps to control the movement of extremists in order to help end terrorism in Iraq and throughout the region. He said the sooner Iraq is stabilized, the sooner the bulk of U.S. troops will leave the country - something he said the United States and all the region's countries want.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora