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At UN, Iraqi Vice President warns of dangers of providing arms to parties in Syrian conflict

Vice-President Khudier Alkhuzae of Iraq addresses the General Assembly.
UN Photo/J Carrier
Vice-President Khudier Alkhuzae of Iraq addresses the General Assembly.

At UN, Iraqi Vice President warns of dangers of providing arms to parties in Syrian conflict

Iraq’s Vice-President, Khudier Alkhuzae, today cautioned against arming either side in the Syrian conflict, telling the United Nations General Assembly that the escalating violence in his country’s neighbour was a “reason for distress to all.”

“We would like to draw your attention to the danger of providing the fighting parties with weapons, which only leads to more violence, blood and loss of life,” the Vice President said in his speech to the 67th Assembly’s General Debate, at UN Headquarters in New York. “This situation endangers the social fabric of the Syrian people, whom we cherish and (for whom we) fear for their unity and sovereignty.”

Vice President Alkhuzae also cautioned against “negative regional and international interference,” saying it could “adversely impact the Syrian issue, and may cause unlimited chaos… that may spare not even those who interfered.”

In Iraq’s view, he continued, only “negotiations and peaceful solutions” stand any chance of ending the crisis, which otherwise risked drawing in the region.

“Solving the crisis by force could double the costs incurred by the Syrians and the region,” the Vice President said. “I hope that all of the parties realize that the bet on the military solution is a dangerous move.”

He called on world leaders to support the “international and Arab initiative” promoted by the Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States, Lakhdar Brahimi, and warned that continued violence could “lead the region (into) a spiral of fighting known only to God.”

Vice President Alkhuzae delivered the warnings on Syria after recalling his own country’s path towards democracy. But he said that, in Iraq’s case, “confronting terrorism caused a lot of blood, tears and money,” yet “rewarded our people with everlasting immunity against violence and gave us protective vaccines against the use of force and arms to deal with our differences.”

On the question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Iraqi Vice President said his country’s position mirrored that of the wider Arab world in its support for the establishment of a State of Palestine within the “occupied Palestinian territories, with Jerusalem as its capital.”

“We also declare our unequivocal rejection of the policies of repression, Judaization and usurpation of land practiced by Israel,” he said.

Looking beyond conflict in the Middle East, in his statement, Vice President Alkhuzae touched on the question of “discriminatory policies” targeting religious and ethnic minorities, saying that Iraq condemned the “inhumane violations of the rights of Muslims in Myanmar.” He said they faced a “genocide that (the) world’s conscience” should not ignore.

Recent tensions between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine left at least a dozen civilians dead and hundreds of homes destroyed, as well as at least 64,000 people displaced.

Referring to an anti-Islam video produced in the United States, and which led to a violent reaction in several cities around the world, the Iraqi Vice President echoed other Muslim leaders speaking from the Assembly rostrum in commenting on the “repulsive abuses” directed against the Prophet of Islam, and the ensuring protests.

He said the protests had “almost rocked” East-West relations, and called for a “sincere look” at the prospect of internationally banning such offending material with a measure that “criminalizes anyone who insults heavenly religions, disrespects religious symbols, or insults the Great Prophets and Messengers.”

“The recurrence of these obscene actions will supply terrorists with excellent material to attract angry youth and use them in violent actions that threaten peace and security,” he said, adding that the Islamic world was itself unable to bring about such a measure, but that Iraq believed the UN was “able to play a central and constructive role in this issue.”

Vice President Alkhuzae is one of scores of world leaders and other high-level officials presenting their views and comments on issues of individual national and international relevance at the Assembly’s General Debate, which ends on 1 October.