The following statements [ahead of the May 26 meeting between the US and Iran] by Jordanian, Iraqi, Iranian and U.S panelists appeared in The Jordan Times. The original article remains online for one week. Boldface and italics were added.
Jordan, Iraq call for zero interference in internal Iraqi affairs
|By Linda HindiDEAD SEA — Jordan and Iraq called for zero interference in internal Iraqi affairs during a panel discussion on Iraq and the regional security dimension on Sunday, the last day of the World Economic Forum.“We have to end proxy wars, we don’t want any party to use Iraq as a fighting ground for capital gains,” [Jordan] Foreign Affairs Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib said at the session, entitled “Iraq the regional security dimension.”
He added, however, that the Kingdom first wants to see Iraq achieve political reconciliation internally and the revival of Iraqi nationalism.
“When there is a national feeling of weakness it opens the door for other affiliations to emerge… at the expense of our collective security in the region,” he said.
Iraqi Vice President Tariq Al Hashemi stressed that the security of Iraq is becoming the security of the region and it is trying to convince its neighbours that “the situation in Iraq is going to spill over sooner or later.”
He asked for help from Iraq’s neighbours to reconcile internal differences before moving on to resolve external conflicts.
“We are not asking anyone to come and make decisions for us. All that we need is to stop people who are capitalising on our human tragedy; if this is beyond the capacity of the US then let the United Nations and our neighbours take over,” the Iraqi vice president said.
Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, who also took part in the panel, said the roadmap to achieve stability must start “with an Iraqi national pact or power sharing arrangement” for it to succeed, adding that “there must also be a regional pact that includes the US.”
Copanelist, Mohammad Larijani, director of the Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics of Iran, said it is not in Iran’s interest to interfere in Iraq.
“Iran is not interfering in the Iraq affair. We are there to help them, period… also we do not send arms into Iraq, they don’t need them, Iraq is already full of arms,” Larijani said.
US panelists participating in the discussion, senators Orrin Hatch and Gordon Smith disagreed with Larijani, saying there was concrete evidence that Iran is supplying weapons, bomb-making components and military trainers to Iraq.
“We have respect for Iran and desire to work together to stabilise the region; on the other hand we don’t think that Iran is doing one tiddle for peace in the Middle East. Our country needs to do a better job, but it makes it very difficult when we know that Iran is sending weapons into Iraq that are killing Americans and Iraqis,” said Hatch, a Republican from Utah.
Smith, a Republican senator from Oregon, added that he has seen confiscated Iranian weapons as well as captured Iranian advisers, who confessed to their mission to train Iraqis in military tactics.
“There is no question that we have evidence that Syrians and Iranians are working to destabilise Iraq. They should know that the days are coming to an end where Americans are in the streets of Iraq, but we will always be around to make sure a vacuum is not left that terrorists would fill,” Smith said.
Monday, May 21, 2007