Last updated: 17 January, 2014

Iraq warns against “poisonous” extremism in Syria

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Friday that efforts to stop the civil war in Syria must tackle the “poisonous” extremism and sectarianism threatening the region.

But he warned that there would be no “magical solution” at next week’s international Syria peace talks in Switzerland.

“The whole region, every country will be affected unless some solution, or some collaboration (is reached) between all the countries, especially the neighbouring countries who are in the firing line,” Zebari told reporters in Turkey.

He spoke of the danger of the “poisonous” extremism and sectarianism spreading across the region from Syria, where regime forces are fighting increasingly divided rebel groups and Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.

US and Iraqi officials have warned for months that insecurity in Syria was spilling over into Iraq’s western province of Anbar.

“The threat of terrorism is a real one. Nobody should underestimate that,” Zebari said in English after a meeting of Syrian refugee-hosting nations in Turkey.

“We feel it today, we are suffering from it. This is a spillover that could spread to other countries too.”

More than 35 countries will gather in Switzerland from Wednesday for the so-called Geneva II conference on finding a way out of the nearly three-year Syria conflict and setting up a transitional government.

“We don’t expect a magical solution from Geneva II but nobody else has any better solution,” said Zebari.

“We call on the Syrian government and the opposition to take this opportunity without preconditions.”