Iraq’s President, Jalal Talabani has thrown his weight behind Syria in the face of increasing US hostility towards Iraq’s neighbour. His announcement is sure to anger US officials.
“When we were in the opposition, there was a time when Syria was the only country that gave us refuge. It offered us assistance as much as it can in terms of funds, weapons, media, and asylum. Therefore, it is not logical to express our gratitude by attacking it.
“All the Americans were sceptical about this. They came down hard on Syria. I told President Bush when I met with him for 15 minutes: I told
him what alternative do you have for Syria? The alternative cannot be like what took place in Iraq. Therefore, you must think twice. He said: We do not want to topple the regime or change the regime. We just want to change the course of action of the regime but we do not accept that US soldiers continue to be killed by terrorists coming from Syria. This
“There are disagreements between us, and we have some remarks but all this should remain confined within the framework of bilateral relations. Do not try because you will not get one word from me against
Talabani also said that he does not support Kurdish independence:
“Imagine than once we proclaim independence, Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria will not go to war against us but will close their borders. How will I go back? What about exports and imports? Also, our real interest is in remaining within a federal Iraq.”