Iraq expects to play an official role in the Syrian transition, especially once things stabilize and more countries reopen their embassies in Damascus, as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain did recently.
On Dec. 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said a group of Iraqi officials had met the day before with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The delegation included national security adviser Faleh al-Fayad, who also heads Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units.
Iraq’s experience in combating terrorism and extremist organizations will come in handy for Syria. Iraq also can help secure the border between the two countries and carry out airstrikes inside Syria against the Islamic State (IS).
Iraq has had no official military presence in Syria. There were armed factions affiliated with some Iraqi political parties that have ties to Iran, but as former Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had pointed out, those didn’t represent the Iraqi state. Today, there are indications Iraq’s military could play a major role in Syria.