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AFP

Jordan urges "comprehensive
political process" in Iraq

AMMAN - Jordan on Monday urged "a comprehensive political process" in Iraq, saying the kingdom is taking steps to guard against possible fallout from the latest unrest in its strife-hit neighbor.

 

Iraqi security forces are battling to repel a militant offensive that has seen a large chunk of northern and north-central Iraq fall out of government hands.

 

Jordan's Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said efforts by the army and police to combat the militants should be accompanied by a "political process including all segments of the Iraqi society."

 

"Jordan is concerned about Iraq and has repeatedly warned against terrorism and its growth in the region. The developments in Syria cannot be isolated from the developments in Iraq," Judeh was quoted as saying by state news agency Petra.

 

Militants led by the powerful Sunni jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and joined by supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, launched their lightning offensive a week ago.

 

The assault brought Iraq's security forces to the brink of collapse, as many troops and police threw away their uniforms and abandoned their weapons and positions faced with the militants.

 

Since then, a government counter-offensive has slowed their advance, but Judeh warned the situation in Iraq was still vague.

 

"Anyone who claims that they know the details of what is happening is wrong. Terrorism finds a fertile ground in sectarian conflicts," Judeh said.

 

His remarks came hours after Saudi Arabia called for the quick formation of a national consensus government in Iraq, blaming Baghdad's "sectarian" policies against the country's Sunni Arab minority for the unrest.

 

Analysts have said Iraqi president Nuri al-Maliki's perceived sidelining of Sunni Arabs set the stage for the militants' push on Baghdad.

 

Judeh said he did not expect Iraqis escaping the violence to seek refuge in Jordan, saying that they were "fleeing to northern Iraq."

 

"Jordan's security requires that we closely monitor developments and take precautions. The armed forces are completely ready to protect Jordan."

 

The kingdom is home to around 600,000 Syrian refugees as well as tens of thousands of Iraqis who fled to Jordan following the US-led invasion in 2003.

Jordan is concerned about Iraq and has repeatedly warned against terrorism and its growth in the region. The developments in Syria cannot be isolated from the developments in Iraq.