UN Iraq envoy: Syria conflict is "fueling terrorism in Iraq", killing civilians beyond its borders

Published November 26th, 2013 - 07:05 GMT
Suicide car bombs in Baghdad have become a daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital (File Archive/AFP)
Suicide car bombs in Baghdad have become a daily occurrence in the Iraqi capital (File Archive/AFP)

The Associated Press released a special report Tuesday on how Syria's conflict is "fueling terrorism" and sectarian tensions in Iraq.

According to the report, the crisis in Syria has allowed al-Qaeda groups to establish unprecdented ties with Iraq-based jihadists in a manner that has strengthened al-Qaeda linked organizations regionally.

As a result of this new forging of jihadist groups, resolving the Syrian crisis is increasingly linked to the conflict in Iraq within diplomatic circles.

According to the UN envoy to Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, Iraq's weak security and political deadlock have served terrorists' interests in the sense that they have allowed the jihadist groups to "[incite sectarian hatred and undermine the government]."

Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed al-Hakim further suggested that the nearly 35,000 armed foreigners in Syria have spread sectarian conflict throughout the region, and have particularly targeted Iraq vis-a-vis its shared border with Syria. "[The armed foreigners involved in the Syrian conflict have] had a significant impact on increasing the frequency of terrorist acts in Iraq," he said.

The UN ambassador has put forth an initiative to the UN Security Council to consider this increase in terrorist violence that has led to the death of thousands of Iraqis as "crimes against humanity" under UN conventions. However, the council has merely responded by simply condemning the attacks and emphasizing that  "no terrorist act can reverse a path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by the people and the government ... and the international community." According to UN estimates, nearly 9,000 civilians and Iraqi security personnel have been killed from terrorist-related incidents between July and October this year alone.

Solving the Syrian crisis is thus considered vital among Iraq's leadership, with Mladenov noting that political, civic and religious leaders throughout the country have expressed deep concern and "growing anxiety" to Syria's role on terrorism within Iraq's borders. "[Finding a solution to the Syrian crisis and adopting a regional strategy against all forms of religious or sectarian extremism] are vital to bringing stability to Iraq."

More than 202,000 Syrian refugees are registered in Iraq. According to UN estimates, 98 percent of the refugees live in Kurdistan.

"Today, more than ever, Iraq's challenges cannot be considered in isolation from the broader risks that face the region," the UN envoy added.

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