Published January 14, 2015
Iraq asked its neighbors Wednesday for real help bringing security to the violence-ravaged nation, telling them in a meeting that action, not talk, was needed most.
The gathering of Iraq, its six neighbors and Egypt was the first since coalition forces handed over sovereignty to an interim government on June 28. Iraqi officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (search) was expected to make proposals for security cooperation.
"We expect some of our neighbors to stand by the Iraqi people, to help us in deeds and not words, and to support the effort of the new Iraqi sovereign government to establish a peaceful, responsible Iraq friendly to its neighbors. And this is what we have come to ask them for," Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said.
Iraq was expected to complain to its neighbors — Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — that they aren't doing enough to help it stop violence and may even be fomenting trouble.
Iraq's Defense Minister Hazem Shalan al-Khuzaei (search) was quoted in Tuesday's London-based Asharq Awsat newspaper as saying Iraq has evidence neighbors were interfering in his country's internal affairs. He singled out Iran, but gave no details.
On Tuesday, Zebari said there was "infiltration from neighboring countries" and interference. He also said there was "indifference from others toward what goes on."
"We don't accuse any country in specific and we don't consider what happens in Iraq as state policy in any country," he said.
The European Union also urged regional nations to support efforts to stabilize Iraq.
EU representative Javier Solana, who met with the foreign ministers of Iraq and Iran Wednesday but will not participate in the conference, said Europe is trying to help the Iraqi people stabilize the country and re-establish security.
"It seems to me that the most important thing now is to see how we can guarantee, all of us together, the stability and the security of Iraq so that the process of recuperation of the sovereignty is done according to the calendar," he said Wednesday.
U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was to take part in the discussions and was likely to urge Iraq's neighbors to fully back the new interim government.
On Tuesday, Zebari appealed to Iraq's neighbors for practical steps to root out international terrorism, saying that the new, sovereign Iraqi government must prove its credibility to its people.
He said after meeting with Egyptian counterpart Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Tuesday that practical steps would include creating bilateral security committees.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said upon arrival in Cairo Tuesday that his country is doing its best to control cross-border infiltration, saying the issue has raised too many misunderstandings.
"It is normal when there are shared borders that probably there will be border crossing, but without the knowledge of the government," he said.
Iraqi leaders facing almost daily car bombings and firefights accuse foreign Muslim infiltrators of being behind some of the deadliest attacks and say neighboring countries are either facilitating or turning a blind eye to cross-border infiltration.
Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia say it is difficult to control their long, porous borders with Iraq.
Washington, which still leads some 160,000 multinational troops in Iraq, has accused the Iranians of meddling in Iraq in hopes of turning the country, with its Shiite Muslim majority, into a Shiite theocracy like Iran. Iranians deny the charges.
The foreign ministers of Iraq's neighbors and regional heavyweight Egypt have met five times since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime last year to discuss attempts to stabilize the country.