Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered thousands of additional national police deployed to the border with Syria, saying it was needed to prevent insurgents from infiltrating into the nation. Tensions between Iraq and Syria have been rising in recent weeks as Iraq has sought to implicated Syria in last month’s major Baghdad suicide bombings.
The two nations withdrew their respective ambassadors in August, after Iraq demanded that Syria hand over top Ba’athists and Syria refused. The Ba’athist Party of Iraq was in power until the 2003 US invasion, and many of its Sunni followers fled to neighboring Syria, where their own Ba’athist Party is still in power.
Since the withdrawal of their ambassadors, Iraq has broadcast two confessions on state media related to the Baghdad attacks. The first was a Ba’athist who claimed responsibility and said he had been living in Syria. Then, upping the ante, a second confession of an al-Qaeda member was produced. He also claimed responsibility for the attacks, and added the claim that he received training in a Syrian al-Qaeda camp, which was being run by top members of the Syrian government.
Though it didn’t make a lot of sense to blame both the Ba’athists and al-Qaeda for the same attack (particularly since the two groups dislike one another), it has raised tensions enormously between the two nations. Prime Minister Maliki has now essentially blamed the Syrian government for the attacks, and is urging the United Nations to launch an inquiry into possible “genocide” charges against officials who may have been involved. Maliki insists that evidence has been provided to the Syrian government via Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, but what exactly it entails has not been made public. Yesterday he presented “press releases” from Iraqi Ba’athists which he claimed had been produced inside Syria.