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Iraq: President Warns Against Turning the Country into 'War Zone'

Iraq: President Warns Against Turning the Country into 'War Zone'

Thursday, 16 January, 2020 - 07:45
Demonstrators gesture at a protest during a curfew, three days after the nationwide anti-government protests turned violent, in Baghdad, Iraq (File photo: Reuters)
Baghdad - Hamza Mustafa

Iraqi President Barham Salih affirmed his country's keenness to stabilize the situation in the region and reduce tension, warning against using Iraq as a “war zone”, in reference to the ongoing conflict between the US and Iran.

Speaking during the reception of Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at the presidential palace in Baghdad, President Salih asserted that Iraq can be a factor for positive understanding and a point of stability and peace between regional and international powers.

Salih asserted that his country will not be a launching pad for any aggression against any neighboring country.

The Qatari minister is on an official visit to Iraq where he met with several officials and discussed regional developments.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali al-Hakim said in a joint press conference held with his Qatari counterpart, that the two discussed means of stabilizing the current situation in the region and ensuring freedom of navigation in the Gulf.

Hakim stressed the need to respect the sovereignty of Iraq denouncing any attempt to turn the country into an arena for conflict.

The Qatari minister also met Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, and they discussed recent developments in the region and the importance of reducing tensions after the US raid which assassinated commander of al-Quds Force Qassem Soleimani and deputy chief of Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis.

For his part, Member of the parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee MP Alaa Talabani told Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraq is trying to stabilize the situation in light of the current crisis between the US and Iran.

MP Talabani noted that there are many indications of the violation of Iraq’s sovereignty, whether through the US raid or Iranian bombing of Ein al-Assad military base.

Iraq supports any mediation in this direction by any country because the escalation will be a source of danger for everyone in the region, stressed Talabani, adding that everyone is aware that dragging the region into war is catastrophic.

Earlier, the Iraqi parliament sent a request to the government calling for the withdrawal of the US forces from the country.

Consequently, Sec-Gen of the Iraqi National Movement, Iyad Allawi, warned against repeating the Syrian scenario in Iraq if the foreign forces withdrew from the country.

Allawi said in a press statement on Wednesday that the parliament should have held the government accountable and should monitor the mechanisms of applying the rules of military engagement in terms of the method, timing, and the type of weapons used.

He indicated that as a country that called on the international coalition led by Washington to help in its war against ISIS, Iraq should be the country that refuses to be an open arena for the struggle of regional and international powers.

For his part, Head of Salvation and Development Front Osama al-Nujaifi met with the US ambassador in Iraq, Matthew Toler, and said there are agreements between the US and Iraq, and any decision should come according a common interest between the two states.

Nujaifi considered the parliament’s decision asking foreign forces to leave Iraq “hasty”, noting that the government is a caretaker government and has no right to make decisions or recommendations on strategic matters.

Toler discussed his government's position on political issues, especially the withdrawal of US forces, stressing that his country is keen to cooperate and support Iraq and stand with its people.

The ambassador asserted that Washington does not want to take any action that could have catastrophic consequences for Iraq.

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