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Interview: Iraqi VP Adel Abdul Mahdi

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Well in Iraq, everything is political.

What’s your view on what’s happening with Syria? How serious is that?

We have a problem with the Syrians. It is not a recent problem – it is a problem since 2003. There [is] opposition in Syria, and they are using the Syrian territory to send those opposition, to send people [attacking] Iraq. We were negotiating with the Syrians all these years on how to control these opposition groups, especially Baathists, and there had been some progress. We signed a strategic agreement with Syria Tuesday, so we have to separate how to deal with the presence of the opposition, especially those who use the Syrian territory to [attack] Iraq – any other opposition should be accepted, any peaceful opposition, we should expect that.

No country should live without an opposition – opposition is very normal. But what is not normal is the armed opposition and the opposition cooperating with terrorists. There was cooperation [between Iraq] with the neighboring countries, with Syria itself, and the rate of infiltration decreased according to all reports, so we think this should continue. Now, dealing with Syria on another basis and a more aggressive basis, in our view, is not useful. Cooperation, negotiation is the way to deal with those people trying to use the Syrian territories, and we should get the cooperation of the Syrian government. This is very important. Now cutting off or rupturing our relationship with Syria would be harmful. There is no end to that…. We can’t see [how to achieve] a mechanism of controlling those people without having real negotiations and contacts. Now, after the bombings – going directly to put it on Syria or those living in Syria was a [hasty] movement that should have been studied much more carefully with the presidency, with the parliament, before taking strategic decisions such as going to the international court as in any of the other decisions that we have, and the presidency issued a statement on that.

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