News / Middle East

Iraqi Prime Minister Visits Syria to Mend Year-old Rift

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Damascus, 13 Oct 2010
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Damascus, 13 Oct 2010

Multimedia

Audio

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is visiting Damascus for the first time in more than a year.

Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his first visit to the Syrian capital in more than a year.  Observers say the meeting was intended to end a lengthy rift that began after Mr. Maliki accused Damascus of responsibility for several devastating car bombs last year in Baghdad.

President Assad reportedly told Mr. Maliki that he was pleased that relations between both countries were on the mend.  He added that the "rapid formation of [a new] Iraqi government" would reinforce stronger ties.

Prime Minister Maliki was quoted as saying that relations between Iraq and Syria are "special" and that neither country can "get by without the other."   Mr. Maliki spent several years in exile in Damascus, while an opponent of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Maliki is thought to be seeking Syria's support to remain in office, after months of political wrangling following inconclusive parliamentary elections last March.  Former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi, his chief rival for the job, visited Syria two weeks ago.

A political analyst in Baghdad, Salem Mashkour, says the invitation for Mr. Maliki to visit Damascus followed the intervention of Iranian leaders in his favor.

"The Prime Minister of Syria [Naji Otri] invited Maliki to visit Damascus and this came after more than one year of tension between Maliki personally and the Syrian leaders," he said. "That was after an agreement between Syria and Iran about Maliki.  Iranian leaders convinced Syrian leaders, especially [Syrian President] Bashar al Assad, to accept al Maliki and Bashar Assad agreed to start a new page with [him]."

Syria has long had close ties to Iraq's Sunni-opposition movement and Damascus has repeatedly insisted that it was trying to "remain equidistant" between Iraq's Sunni and Shi'ite political parties.  

Iraq expert Peter Harling of the Crisis Group in Damascus says Syria appears to be bending in favor of Mr. Maliki now that the United States and Iran appear to be supporting him for a new term.

"I think the Syrians realize that Maliki now has support from Iran obviously, but also from the U.S., for a lot of different reasons," he said. "He is seen by both as a solution of continuity."

"I think the Iranians see current dynamics in Iraq as pointing in the right direction from their own perspective, and as you know, the U.S. wants out and Maliki is the least problematic option, perhaps.  So, it becomes more difficult for the Syrians to oppose him with as much vigor as in the past," he added.

Harling argues that Mr. Maliki brought several economic incentives with him to Damascus, in a bid to garner Syria's support for his remaining in office.  Among those incentives are several projects that were frozen last year, including an oil pipeline from Iraq to the Mediterranean, via Syria, and a pact to refine some Iraqi crude oil in Syria.

Prime Minister Maliki recently indicated that he has gained the support of Iraq's key Shi'ite political formations, giving him the votes in parliament to form a new government.  Harling believes that the prime minister wants Damascus to help convince rival Iyad Allawi to "join the government under acceptable terms."

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid