Baghdad: Iraq urged its neighbours, including Iran and Syria, to halt their alleged support for violent extremists on 10 March 2007, as insurgent attacks slaughtered at least 35 more Iraqis.
The urgency of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s appeal was underlined when, in a suspected insurgent attack, three mortar rounds detonated next to the foreign ministry while peace talks took place inside.
In the mainly Shiite east Baghdad, a bomber slammed a truck laden with explosives into an army checkpoint at the entrance to Sadr City, killing 26 people, officials said.
A short distance away, a second suicide attacker killed two people at another checkpoint, while insurgent bomb and gun attacks around the country accounted for at least seven more lives.
As the explosions and gunfire echoed around Baghdad, Maliki launched a day of talks with delegates from Middle Eastern states and from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
The embattled premier demanded that Iraq not become a battlefield for a proxy war between regional powers —an implicit reference to the rivalry between Shiite Iran and Iraq’s Sunni Arab neighbours.
“We wish to have our neighbours’ support for confronting terrorism,” said Maliki in his opening address to the assembled diplomats, warning that the violence gripping Iraq could destablise other countries.
“The terrorism that today is trying to kill Iraqis in Baghdad, Hilla, Mosul and Anbar is the same as the terror that intimidated the population of Saudi Arabia, targeted the people of Egypt, attacked the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York and hit underground trains in Madrid and London.
“Confronting terrorism means halting any form of financial support and media or religious incitement, as well as logistical support and the provision of arms and men that will become explosive tools killing our children, women and elders, and bombing our mosques and churches,” Maliki said.
The latest U.S. intelligence studies of the Iraqi crisis warn that the violence between Sunni and Shiite factions is “self-sustaining” and that “the term ‘civil war´ accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict.”
Nevertheless, both Washington and Baghdad also accuse neighbouring states of exacerbating the conflict by actively or tacitly supporting factions engaged in sectarian violence and insurgent attacks on security forces.
All five veto-wielding permanent members of the UN Security Council—Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — took part in the meeting, along with the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. From the region, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria attended the meeting.