National Security Brief: Iraqi Prime Minister Defends Assad In Top U.S. Newspaper

In a Washington Post op-ed on Tuesday commemorating the 10 year anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki defended Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, arguing that the international community should not intervene militarily in the two-year old civil war:

In Syria, we can conceive of no scenario in which a military “victory” by either the government or the opposition can bring peace and stability. Only a negotiated solution can lead to such an outcome. Accordingly, we oppose all transfers of weapons, to both the government and the opposition, and we are working to ensure that our airspace and territory are not used for such transfers.

Further militarization of the conflict will only increase the suffering of civilians and strengthen radical groups, including our common enemy, al-Qaeda. We have been mystified by what appears to be the widespread belief in the United States that any outcome in Syria that removes President Bashar al-Assad from power will be better than the status quo. A Syria controlled in whole or part by al-Qaeda and its affiliates — an outcome that grows more likely by the day — would be more dangerous to both our countries than anything we’ve seen up to now. Americans should remember that an unintended consequence of arming insurgents in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets was turning the country over to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Despite the fact that Iran has emerged as the real winner of the U.S.-led war in Iraq, Maliki promised that his country “will never be subservient” to the Islamic Republic.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that “Iraq on Monday searched an Iranian aircraft on route to Syria but found only medical equipment onboard, in the first inspection since Washington urged Baghdad to help stop Tehran flying arms to Syria, authorities said.”

In other news:

  • The Washington Post reports: The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said Monday that his agency cannot rule out the possibility that Iran was actively seeking nuclear weapons technology, citing intelligence on suspicious research by Iranian scientists that occurred as recently as a few years ago.
  • Reuters reports: Iraq’s al Qaeda wing has united with a kindred Syrian group in the frontline of a struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad, sharpening a dilemma for nations that back the revolt, but fear rising Islamist militancy.
  • Reuters also reports: North Korea intensified threats of an imminent conflict against the United States and the South on Tuesday, warning foreigners to evacuate South Korea to avoid being dragged into “thermonuclear war.”