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.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs