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Syria Hurts Maliki’s Pride

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Damascus might find itself in the role of a broker between the Iraqi Ba’ath Party – once Saddam Hussein’s party in Iraq, and still Bashar al-Assad’s political vehicle in Syria.

Aleppo Baghdad Station: Staying Connected

Aleppo Baghdad Station: Staying Connected

An American military delegation led by Major General Michael Moeller of US Central Command had two days of talks in Syria – in Baghdad however, a lot of people aren’t pleased with the first indicators of a possible thaw between Washington and Damascus. Nuri al-Maliki announced a trip of his own to Syria for the next week – “It is not the duty of the American delegation to negotiate on behalf of Iraq,” his spokesman is quoted as saying. As the American troops withdrew from the Iraqi streets and cities on July 1, and Maliki announced on the occasion that it was the national united government [which] had succeeded in putting down the sectarian war that was threatening the unity and the sovereignty of Iraq, he will now be very sensitive about any possible loss of face.

Syria will be interested in bringing Saddam Hussein’s former deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri (who has lived in Damascus since 2003), back into the game in Iraq. He is said to have been behind guerilla campaigns against the American occupation – and here lies a bone of contention between Damascus and Washington, as the U.S. demand the arrest of about a dozen of high-ranking supporters – or facilitators – of those campaigns.

The Iraqi Ba’ath Party is still seems to be sound and to be taking orders. Its cadres have received orders to resume political activity, writes The Telegraph.

If the new (or old) Ba’ath Party establishes itself in Iraq as a palladium of national resistance and gets legalised, and if it facilitates a rapprochement between Baghdad and Damascus, Iran might find its influence on Iraq further reduced – most Iraqis are Shia, just like most Iranians. But most Iraqis also see their country as Arabic, rather than as easy Iranian proxy. Saudi Arabia’s worries about a handover of Iraq to Iran could turn out to be unjustified.

And America may have restored an old business friend in Baghdad – not in control as it was during Rummy’s and Saddam Hussein’s happiest days, but still a substantial one. And Syria may get shopping options beyond Russia again. That said, its need for arms of a defensive character won’t be unlimited.

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Written by taide

August 15, 2009 at 8:42 pm

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