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Tuesday, March 01, 2005 

Syria and Iraq - a new era of relations?

Iraq's Defence Minister has claimed that Syria is co-operating with Iraq to stop insurgents from crossing the border.

He claims that Syria helped to capture Sabawi Ibrahim, one of the most wanted members of Saddam's government. The claims have not been confirmed by Syria.

The American Forces in Iraq have repeatedly accused Syria of allowing insurgents to cross the border but according to official records, of the 10,000 detainees in US-run jails in Iraq, only 56 are Syrian. Many are held without trial.

America accuses Syria of supporting Baathist reminents in Iraq. But Syria had a frosty relationship with Saddam, severing diplomatic relations for decades. Syria supported the US-led first Gulf War, supplying troops.

The Telegraph says Sabawi Ibrahim was captured by Syrian Kurds. This would suggest a high level of involvement for the Kurds in the Syrian mukhabaraat (intelligence). Syria's former Prime Minister Mustafa Miro (above) was a Kurd, as was the late Grand Mufti of Syria.

Syrian Kurds live in the North East of the country near the border with Iraq, centered around Qamishli. There are concerns about their integration into Syrian society, but is not comparable with Turkish repression of the Kurds, or the Iranian and Iraqi experience. There is a large Kurdish population in Aleppo (Syria's second city) and Damascus.


Bashar Al-Assad has said in an interview with Time magazine:
"It [withdrawal] should be very soon and maybe in the next few months. Not after that. ... The security in Lebanon is much better than before. They have an army, they have a state, they have institutions."

why arent those syrian kurds given their nationalities. they have lived in syria for centuries and even those who were refugges from turkey arrived 100 years ago in the 20s. its not fair

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