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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora