New York - The conflict in Syria is helping fuel terrorism
and sectarian tensions in neighbouring Iraq, enabling groups like al-Qaeda to
forge links with similar factions across the border, the UN envoy to Iraq said on
Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council that
resolving the Syrian crisis and adopting a regional strategy against all forms
of religious or sectarian extremism "are vital to bringing stability to
"Today, more than ever, Iraq's challenges cannot be
considered in isolation from the broader risks that face the region," he
said, noting that more than 202 000 Syrian refugees are registered in Iraq, 98%
of them in Kurdistan.
Mladenov said deteriorating security in Iraq, compounded by
political deadlock, is being exploited by terrorists and armed groups trying to
incite sectarian hatred and undermine the government.
The former Bulgarian former minister, who was appointed to
the job in August by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said all political,
civic and religious leaders that he met in Baghdad, Najaf, Erbil, Anbar and
Kirkuk expressed deep concern over the escalating violence, and a growing
anxiety that Syria and other outside influences "are fuelling the
terrorist threat to Iraq".
Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim warned that the
presence of nearly 35 000 armed foreigners in Syria, "battling alongside
the parties to the conflict" is transforming it into a sectarian conflict
that is spreading across the region.
"This has had a significant impact on increasing the
frequency of terrorist acts in Iraq," he said, because jihadists and
extremist groups linked to al-Qaeda infiltrate across the border.
Alhakim urged the Security Council to consider these
terrorist acts which have led to the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis
"crimes against humanity" and ensure the perpetrators are brought to
Between July and October, the UN estimated that just under 9
000 civilians and members of the Iraqi security forces were killed, with
thousands more injured.
The council responded by condemning the recent spate of
terrorist attacks "in the strongest terms," and stressing that
"no terrorist act can reverse a path towards peace, democracy and
reconstruction in Iraq, which is supported by the people and the government ...
and the international community."