Syrian Foreign Minister in Iraq to strengthen ties with his best ally

Two weeks after Syria's reintegration into the Arab League organization, Faisal Mekdad was in Baghdad on Sunday. Damascus is trying to get humanitarian aid from Baghdad and is trying to expand security cooperation between the two countries.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad (L) receives Fouad Hussein, his Iraqi counterpart, in Baghdad on June 4, 2023. AP - Hadi Mizban

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With our correspondent in Baghdad, Marie-Charlotte Roupie

An exception in the region, Baghdad had never severed diplomatic relations with Damascus. The head of Iraqi diplomacy therefore welcomed Syria's reintegration into the Arab League during his meeting with his Syrian counterpart.

The two states now want to deepen their cooperation. Security first, in the fight against the remaining cells of the Islamic State group.

But Faisal Mekdad, Syria's foreign minister, also hoped to secure Iraq's support against the armed groups still present in northwestern Syria.

More important for Baghdad is the fight against drug trafficking. Across the 600 km border that separates the two countries, millions of Captagon pills flood Iraq, which expects the Syrian regime to curb this trafficking.

Also referring to the 250,000 Syrian refugees hosted in the country, the head of Iraqi diplomacy pledged to provide humanitarian aid soon to Syria, devastated by a decade of war and recent earthquakes.

The development of economic and trade relations with its neighbours remains a major challenge for the Syrian regime, which is still under international sanctions.

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  • Syria
  • Iraq