Richard Spring is MP for West Suffolk
It is welcome news that the Iraqi government is convening a meeting of its neighbours (and the UK and USA) to try to help the country reach some level of stability. What is particularly welcome is that the US is finally accepting that you cannot diplomatically isolate one country in the Middle East from another.
The ties of kinship, tribe, culture and religion often transcend political boundaries which were artificially created by outsiders anyway. No progress in tackling regional problems has ever been made by cherrypicking those with whom to do business, let alone talk to at all.
There are fundamentalist forces in Iran who certainly welcome Shiite radicalism and possible Shiite domination in Iraq. However given the wide spectrum of minorities in Iran, there are other Iranians who fear the break up of Iraq. Syria, by contrast, would find a dismemberment of Iraq totally unwelcome. It is constitutionally secular, protects its religious minorities and is vehemently opposed to religious fundamentalism.
So finally, echoing the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations, Syria and Iran will be brought into the loop. After all, the US finally did business with North Korea. Just maybe the change of mind will also lead to a dialogue with Syria over the other key problem of the region, namely Palestine and Israel, and its backwash into Lebanon. Up to this point the US has opposed any such dialogue.
Meanwhile let us be grateful to Jordan for taking up to a million Iraqi refugees and Syria more than a million, many of whom are Christian. It is a tragic by-product of the situation in Iraq, and a huge burden on Jordan and Syria, which we should freely acknowledge.