(BAGHDAD) — Iraq is now deeply concerned that the conflict in Syria has the potential for destabilizing its own government.
There are reports that Sunni tribes near the border with Syria are now taking up arms against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, which is a sect of Shiites known as the Alwawite.
This would seriously compromise Iraq’s neutrality regarding the Syrian conflict, although the U.S. has been critical of Baghdad allowing Iran to do flyovers in order to bring military assistance to al-Assad’s supporters.
Nonetheless, Iraqi leaders worry that Sunni tribes, which have largely been peaceful since sectarian tensions began easing with Shiites, might suddenly become emboldened and begin spreading discontent again throughout Iraq.
A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said, “What worries us is that there is no plan to control things in Syria, to find a peaceful political solution or a type of change that can be controlled.”
Al-Maliki is faced with deciding on what is the lesser of two evils. He is no fan of al-Assad but the prime minister also fears the prospect of a new Sunni regime right next door to Iraq.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Chris Williams and Jason Hanna, CNN
Sugam Pokharel and Tim Hume, CNN