Syria: Leave Iraq or Face Crisis, Wants Iran’s Nuclear Case Confined to Appropriate Agency
29 Apr 09 | PTV
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned Obama that Washington will face a crisis in the Middle East if he does not pull US troops out of Iraq.
If US President Barack Obama does not remedy the mistakes made by the Bush administration, he will face a serious crisis in the region within a year, Assad said in Vienna on Tuesday.
Up to “50 per cent of the problem” could be resolved by the quick withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, he added.
The Syrian president’s remarks comes amid reports of US-Iraqi negotiations about bypassing the security agreement between Baghdad and Washington, which calls for the withdrawal of US combat troops by June 30.
On Sunday, the New York Times reported that the top US commander in Iraq, Gen. Ray Odierno and the Iraqi defense minister, Abdul Qadir al-Obaidi, would meet to discuss possible exceptions to a deadline for withdrawing US troops.
The talks were expected to focus on the prospects of US combat troops remaining in the restive city of Mosul and some parts of Baghdad past the deadline outlined in the agreement between the two countries.
In October 2008, US military helicopters took off from Iraq, violated Syrian airspace and carried out a raid inside the country, killing eight civilians, including a father and his four children.
Officials in Washington said the helicopters had targeted a network of al-Qaeda-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. Damascus, however, condemned the strike as a “serious violation” of its territory.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called for the probe into Iranian nuclear activities to be confined to the pertinent UN body — the IAEA.
Damascus will not play a mediation role in the nuclear case between Iran and the West but is ready to help resolve the issue, Assad said in Tuesday discussions with Austrian officials and intellectuals in Vienna.
The Syrian president also called on the UN Security Council to send Iran’s nuclear case back to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has a more technical outlook.
Assad, who was on a two-day visit to Vienna, made the request after Austrian President Heinz Fischer urged him to use the close ties between Tehran and Damascus to resolve the row over Iran’s nuclear program.
During an earlier meeting with Assad, Fischer had said that Syria should get Tehran to respond “constructively” to UN Security Council resolutions against the country.
Iran says it pursues the civilian applications of nuclear technology according to the rights granted by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it has signed.
Israel and other Western nuclear armed powers, however, accuse the country of having plans to develop a nuclear weapon. With the US leading the way, they have so far managed to pass several resolutions against Iran at the UN Security Council.
For long now, Iran has insisted that its nuclear dossier should never have been sent to the Security Council, where the US, Britain and France have three of the five veto votes. Tehran says the only body authorized to monitor its atomic work is the IAEA.
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