Baghdad: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad`s
regime will not fall and attempts to overthrow it by force
will aggravate the crisis in the region, Iraqi Prime Minister
Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday.
"It has been one year and the regime did not fall, and it
will not fall, and why should it fall’" Maliki told a news
conference in Baghdad.
"We reject any arming (of Syrian rebels) and the process
to overthrow the regime, because this will leave a greater
crisis in the region," Maliki said.
His comments were Iraq`s strongest statement yet on the
year-long Syria crisis, and is another attack on the position
of hardline states including Qatar and Saudi Arabia that
advocate arming Syrian rebels and have called for Assad`s
The two Gulf States sent low-level delegations to a
landmark Arab summit in Baghdad on Thursday, in what the
Qatari premier said was a "message" to Iraq.
Without naming them, Maliki said "the stance of these two
states is very strange. They are calling for sending arms
instead of working on putting out the fire, and they will hear
our voice, that we are against arming and against foreign
"We are against the interference of some countries in
Syria`s internal affairs, and those countries that are
interfering in Syria`s internal affairs will interfere in the
internal affairs of any country," the Iraqi leader added.
He was speaking as delegates from dozens of European,
Arab and other countries met in Istanbul to consider ways of
supporting Syrian opposition representatives and to apply
further pressure on Assad`s regime.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said earlier that senior
Iraqi officials were present at the "Friends of Syria"
meeting, after comments by Maliki`s spokesman that Iraq might
not attend in order to preserve its role as mediator.
"Iraq is taking part in the second meeting of the Friends
of Syria in Istanbul, and the deputy foreign minister and our
permanent representative at the Arab League are attending the
conference," Zebari said.
The United Nations says Assad`s crackdown on the uprising
against his rule has cost more than 9,000 lives since it
erupted in March last year.