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U.S. allies take differing stances after Syria chemical attack

Saturday, April 08, 2017 - 01:43

The suspected chemical attack in Syria and U.S. retaliation has widened the West's rift with Moscow, but may have also highlighted a difficult balancing act for a major U.S. ally: Iraq. Matthew Larotonda reports.

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The suspected chemical attack in Syria that prompted the U.S. missile strike against a Syrian airbase is forcing difficult diplomacy to get that much harder. Just a day after an emergency session of the UN Security Council pitted Russia against the the U.S., France, and Britain. Britain's foreign minister announcing he's cancelled a visit to Moscow that was due to take place on Monday (April 10.) Boris Johnson stating that "developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally". But the events may have also sown division between the U.S. and another ally, Iraq. Baghdad hasn't accepted the White House's assertion that the Syrian government was behind the gas poisoning that killed scores of civilians. Calling instead for an international investigation to find the perpetrator. And in a written statement, its government criticised what it called "the hasty interventions" that followed -- an apparent reference to the strike authorised by U.S. President Donald Trump. The chilly response may be due to the influence of Iran. Iran, like Russia, is on the opposite side of the Syrian conflict from the United States. Yet it also holds a Shi'ite Muslim majority, like Iraq, and has leveraged those populations to its advantage. Funding Iraqi Shi'ite militia fighting in support of the Syrian government. Baghdad says that U.S. vice president, Mike Pence, called Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, on Saturday (April 8) to reassure him of their mutual battle against Islamic State. Iraq's criticism of the missile strike comes just days after Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, visited Abadi on a trip to the country.

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U.S. allies take differing stances after Syria chemical attack

Saturday, April 08, 2017 - 01:43