AFP | Apr 01,2012 | 23:30
BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Shiite prime minister on Sunday slammed Sunni-ruled Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s stance on arming Syrian rebels, as Doha hosted Baghdad’s fugitive vice president who is accused of running a death squad.
Nouri Al Maliki’s remarks were the latest in a dramatic cooling of ties between Qatar and Iraq, which have sharply disagreed on how to respond to President Bashar Assad’s yearlong deadly crackdown on dissent in Syria.
The United Nations says that more than 9,000 people have been killed since the crackdown began in mid-March last year.
The Syria issue has split the Arab world, with hardline states including Qatar and Saudi Arabia advocating arming Syrian rebels and calling for Assad’s departure, while others including Iraq want to see a political solution.
“We reject any arming [of Syrian rebels] and the process to overthrow the [Assad] regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region,” Maliki said at a news conference.
“The stance of these two states is very strange,” he said in apparent reference to Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
“They are calling for sending arms instead of working on putting out the fire, and they will hear our voice, that we are against arming and against foreign interference.”
“We are against the interference of some countries in Syria’s internal affairs, and those countries that are interfering in Syria’s internal affairs will interfere in the internal affairs of any country,” the Iraqi leader added.
He also predicted that Assad’s regime will hang on, saying: “It has been one year and the regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?”
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