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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora