Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he believes the fall of the Syrian regime is unlikely and stressed that embattled President Bashar al-Assad is “smarter” than Saddam Hussein.
In an interview in Cairo with the Saudi-owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat, Maliki said: “I know Syria very well,” adding that Assad’s Alawite supporters are becoming increasingly courageous as they grow more desperate.
“The Alawites will fight with other minorities against militants like Sunni extremists,” he said. “That is why they are fighting with their men and women in order to survive,” added the Shiite Maliki, himself facing a Sunni uprising against his rule in several provinces across Iraq.
Maliki said Assad is currently fighting a sectarian war in Syria and unlike Saddam, the Syrian president “has a much deeper political vision.”
Maliki said U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had told him in Washington that Assad was bound to fall “within two months.”
“I told them that this wouldn’t even happen in years,” Maliki said.
Meanwhile, Maliki accused Turkey of attempting to control Syria, Iraq and other regional powers, including Egypt.
“In Iraq, Turkey depends on the sectarian factor and extremists, and opposition figures usually meet in Ankara,” he said.
With regards to relations with Saudi Arabia, Maliki said he was keen on building strong ties with the kingdom
“My first visit was to Saudi Arabia because I believe that good ties between the two countries will have a positive impact on the entire region. We are still looking forward to that. We want to establish relations with countries that have adopted a moderate stance throughout the latest developments and Saudi Arabia is a representative of this approach.”