Iraq supports Syria financially, Iraq’s National Coalition leader Says

A prominent source in the Iraq’s National Coalition, which allies with Nuri al Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, unveiled that “Iran pressurized its allies in Baghdad to support the Syrian authorities with $10 billion.”

“Maliki succumbed to that Iranian demand and already supported Syrian president financially,” the source added.

The source spoke to Asharq al Awsat on phone yesterday from Baghdad, saying: “Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad conveyed an oral message from Ali Khamenei and General Qassem Sulaimani, Iranian Quds Force commander to leaders of the Iraq’s National Coalition, separately, in which they stressed the necessity to support the Syrian president financially, setting the figure at $10 billion. It was much more like an order and not merely request…and it was approved by Maliki, head of the Iraqi government.”

Members of Iraq’s National Coalition opposed the amount of money and not the principle of helping the Syrian leader, but the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad told them that he was in no position to discuss that matter and that his task was only to convey the message issued from supreme religious and political sides in Iran.

The source continued: “We, in the Iraq’s National Coalition, are embarrassed because the Iraqi people face tough economic crises already at the time we approved to pay $10 billion to help the Syrian president get out of his trouble.”

The Iranian quartet that keeps an eye on the Iraqi situation under Khamenei’s supervision has recently taken a package of measures to make the Iraqi capabilities available to support the Syrian regime.

The source said the Iranian ambassador has created a mechanism to support the Syrian regime. Money will be paid to Syrian regime as if they were part of the economic agreements signed and activated between Damascus and Baghdad late last week.

Hashim Hatem, director general of Foreign Economic Relations in the Iraqi Foreign Trade Ministry, denied that Iraq had signed more deals with Syria at this time in particular, while Syria faces internal unrests.

“Most of the deals signed currently between Iraq and Syria are as old as the 1970s of the previous century. They are old and we just got some of them reactivated and changed some others due to a change in the Iraqi economic policies from the oriented economy system to the market economy system,” Hatem told the daily in previous remarks earlier this week.

But according to the leading source in the Iraq’s National Coalition, “Iraqi government signed new deals and activated new ones with Syria, including 3 deals in healthcare, trade and investment sectors and paid $10 billion in implementation of an absolute Iranian desire (to do so).”