Tuesday, February 06, 2007

More evidence that Syria wants to nudge the Baath into the Iraqi political process; US-SCIRI reaction unknown

Syrian sources told Al-Hayat that the Syrian authorities have been encouraging Iraqi Baath party people to organize themselves for future participation in Iraqi national-reconciliation, suggesting there has been positive Syrian encouragement for the recent moves by some Iraqi Baathists to break away from the resistance wing headed by Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri. According to one of the sources, Syrian vice president Farouq al-Sharaa said Syria is calling for complete Iraqi reconciliation, which can't be successful without the participation of all Iraqis.

The journalist recalls that at the end of Iraqi president Talabani's visit to Damascus last month, their joint statement included the assurance that revision of de-Baathification was "a priority of the Iraqi government and parliament", something that was interpreted at the time as a possible indicator of new efforts to bring the Baath into the Iraqi political process. And these reports of official Syrian encouragement for the Baath breakaway movement appear to support that.

The very likely hypothesis would be that Syria has become so concerned about spillover of Iraqi instability that it has started to support political reconciliation at the expense of supporting or acquiescing in the resistance. And the hypothesis would also be that recent Syrian announcement of immigration-restrictions was another manifestation of the same anxiety about the spillover of Iraqi instability.

The new Syrian approach is something clearly supported by Talabani on behalf of the Iraqi Kurds, and equally clearly opposed by Douri and others in the resistance. What isn't clear is the reaction of Washington and its SCIRI-Dawa clients in Baghdad. Statements so far by spokesmen for the Maliki administration haven't welcomed the new Syrian approach. (The resistance wing of the Baath accuses the breakaway group and Syria of conspiring with Maliki and America, but...) On the contrary, the SCIRI-Dawa side of the government has denounced Syria, calling the immigration moves unfriendly, and spokesman Ali Dabbagh said on the weekend that the government has proof that 50% of the terrorist mujahideen come via Syria. The SCIRI-Dawa establishment may well regard the Syrian switch as more of a threat than an opportunity.

Meanwhile, Azzaman reports SCIRI head Abdulaziz al-Hakim was in Tehran yesterday having talks with the Iranian regime. There aren't any reported details of the talks, but the major theme of Hakim's statements following the meetings was to encourage the United States to enter into direct talks with Iran.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I observed in an earlier comment, it is blindingly obvious that Syria was party to a conspiracy to get Saddam Hussein out of the way with a view to weakening, dividing and co-opting the Iraqi Ba’ath Party, which constitutes the backbone of the nationalist resistance to US occupation. The Syrian patsies led by M. Younis Al-Ahmed did not even wait until blood of the martyred President had dried before making their move. They deserve nothing but contempt!

9:10 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Do you mean the Syrian Baath and the Syrian regime wants to weaken and control the Iraqi Baath *in spite of the fact* it is the backbone of the resistance to the US occupation, or *because* it is the backbone of the resistance?

Putting it another way (and for the benefit of those of us a little shaky in our Baath party history): What would you say is the strategic aim of the Syrian Baath and the Syrian regime in doing this, or is it just a question of party-control, and perhaps via control of the Iraqi party getting a bargaining-chip with the Americans?

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for being slow to respond – I’ve been laid up with flu. As I observed in an earlier comment, all these moves, including the precipitous execution of Saddam, need to be seen in the wider context of intensive and longstanding US efforts to divide and co-opt the Iraqi Ba’ath Party in order to undermine the Resistance. The CIA apparently knocked on the door of M. Younis Al-Ahmed in Damascus many times, but he didn’t open it until he got a green light from his Syrian patrons. Of course, Syria has its own fish to fry. It wants to improve its standing with the US and regain the upper hand in its relationship with the Iraqi Ba’ath. In view of the timing, I would say that the first motive is currently more significant. (By the way, there were credible rumours that Tariq Aziz was also approached by the US, but he would never betray Saddam.)

3:23 AM  
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