Iraq Gives Ultimatum to Syria, Iran (?!)


Richard Moore

For a government that hardly exists outside of the Green Zone, one wonders how 
they think they can do harm to Syria or Iran.


Original source URL:

September 28, 2006 Edition
Iraq Gives Ultimatum to Syria, Iran
BY ELI LAKE - Staff Reporter of the Sun
September 28, 2006

WASHINGTON ‹ Iraq's president is issuing an ultimatum to his neighbors: Stop 
meddling in my country or we will meddle in yours.

In public interviews and speeches during a recent visit here, Jalal Talabani's 
remarks became sharper toward Iran, Syria, and Turkey. On September 26, he told 
National Public Radio that if interference from Iraq's neighbors continues, the 
"Iraqi people will support the opposition of other countries and try to make 
troubles for them as they have for us."

The threat, which was repeated yesterday on the U.S.-funded al-Hurra 
Arabic-language satellite network, marked the first time a top Iraqi politician 
has explicitly laid out what will happen if the stream of improvised explosives,
insurgents, and funding for terrorists in Iraq does not end.

Two major Iranian Kurdish opposition organizations have headquarters in northern
Iraq, and other Iranian opposition groups have used Iraqi territory as a safe 
haven as well. Syrian-Kurdish leaders have also kept up relations with their 
colleagues in the Kurdish north of Iraq. Iraqi territory has also emerged as a 
viable route for escaping dissidents from both Iran and Syria. The tension 
between Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Iraq's neighbors has resulted in 
shelling by Iran in recent weeks across the Iraqi border and raids by Turkish 
special forces into areas in northern Iraq where Kurdish separatists are 
believed to be hiding out. President Talabani, meanwhile, has stepped up his 
role in the last month as a mediator between America, Turkey, and the radical 
Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK.

Mr. Talabani's remarks also signify a change for an Iraqi-Kurdish politician who
has been loath to criticize Iran and Syria in prior visits to Washington. In 
2003, as a member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Mr. Talabani led a delegation 
of Iraqi politicians to Iran. In that visit, Iraq and Iran signed a series of 
agreements, including one to combat terrorism. In the mid-1990s, Mr. Talabani's 
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan relied on Iranian material and financial support in
the civil war in northern Iraq, when the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party was 
supported by Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Talabani's son, Qubad Talabani, who is also a representative of the Kurdish 
regional government in Iraq here, said yesterday that his father was "fed up, 
it's a cumulative effect. The country is fed up and he is representing not just 
Kurds, but the sentiments of the country," he told The New York Sun.

Qubad Talabani added: "To put it into context, the president wants good and 
friendly relations with our neighbors. But everyone knows that our neighbors are
playing a double-sided role in Iraq. We are trying to make our relations 
positive. We cannot sit idly by and watch the kinds of interference that have 
been happening, that are resulting in deaths of Iraqis and coalition forces." 
When asked what his father meant by meddling, the son replied, "Meddling can be 
many things."

While President Talabani has expressed his exasperation, it is unclear whether 
his views are shared by the dominant force in Iraq's fledgling government ‹ the 
Shiite majority parliamentary bloc known as the United Iraqi Alliance. Mr. 
Talabani played a key role in persuading a member of that bloc, Nouri al-Maliki,
to step into the premier's chair after many factions in Iraq grew frustrated 
with his predecessor, Ibrahim Jafari. Both Messrs. Jafari and al-Maliki, 
however, hail from the Dawa party, a Shiite Islamist party whose militia has 
close ties to the Iranian revolutionary guard.

Dawa leaders yesterday denounced Mr. Talabani's view that American forces should
be welcome to establish permanent bases and that America's presence in Iraq has 
prevented its collapse. A senior Dawa politician, Haidar Abadi yesterday told 
United Press International, "It's a personal view and he has the right to 
express his opinion the same way parties and blocs have the right to expressed 
their own on the stay of foreign forces or not."

Already, Mr. Talabani's remarks have caught the attention of Ankara. Addressing 
reporters yesterday, Prime Minister Erdogan denounced what he called "an ugly 
statement," adding that he hoped Mr. Talabani would "correct it."

"This stance of Talabani towards the neighbors of Iraq are also used towards the
future of that country," Mr. Erdogan said. "Those are not well-thought 
expressions. We have lived together with Iraqi people for centuries and we will 
continue to do so from now on."

September 28, 2006 Edition > Section: Foreign > Printer-Friendly Version


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