January 13th, 2009
01:15 PM ET
6 years ago

Iraqi VP questions Biden on Obama's Gaza stance

Vice President-elect Biden is meeting with Iraqi officials during a congressional trip overseas.
Vice President-elect Biden is meeting with Iraqi officials during a congressional trip overseas.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden continued his visit to war-ravaged Iraq on Tuesday, but got an earful from one of his counterparts about another regional conflict - the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

Tariq al-Hashimi, one of Iraq's two vice presidents, raised concern over President-elect Barack Obama's "silence" about Israel's military action in Gaza.

"The new administration's reputation is on the line because of President-elect Obama's silence," al-Hashimi said in a statement issued by his office. "This after his stance following the Mumbai events."

Obama issued a strong condemnation of the attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai in November.

Al-Hashimi's statement said he expressed his concern about the "aggression on Gaza and the crimes committed against the Palestinian people" in his meeting with Biden.

Obama has been criticized by some for what is perceived as his relative quiet on the violence in Gaza.

His most extensive comment came in a TV interview Sunday. "When you see civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli, harmed, under hardship, it's heartbreaking," he said. "And obviously what that does is it makes me much more
determined to try to break a deadlock that has gone on for decades now."

The president-elect said he believes "the principle of one president at a time has to hold is when it comes to foreign policy. We cannot have two administrations at the same time simultaneously sending signals in a volatile situation."

Speaking as Iraq's Sunni vice president, al-Hashimi stressed that Iraqis, as well as all Arabs and Muslims, want change and fairness in the Obama administration's foreign policy.

"The president-elect's silence over the tragedies Palestinians are facing in Gaza will hurt U.S. interests; therefore, the new administration must be urged to intervene and force Israel to abide by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1860 and stop its aggression on Gaza."

The men also discussed the political process in Iraq and the implementation of the U.S. troop withdrawal from that country.

Accompanied by U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, Biden met with President Jalal Talabani and his Shiite vice president, Adel Abdel Mehdi, on Monday and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and al-Hashimi on Tuesday.

Biden also met with Iraqi leaders in the disputed and oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, where Arabs, Turkmens, and Kurds are jockeying for power.

Al-Maliki's office issued a statement saying he and Biden discussed developing U.S.-Iraqi bilateral relations.

"We achieved a lot in 2008 in terms of building the armed forces, imposing the law and eradicating terrorists and outlaws. In 2009 our army will be (more) ready to bear its responsibilities and reduce reliance on U.S. forces," al-Maliki's statement said.

It said that Biden "stressed the importance of continuing cooperation and coordination to implement the agreement for the withdrawal of foreign troops signed between the two countries."

As Biden conducted his meetings Tuesday, violence continued in Iraq.

At least 15 Iraqis were wounded in Sunni districts Baghdad, eight in a roadside bombing in the Dora district and seven by mortars in Adhamiya.

Updated 1:15 p.m.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iraq • Israel • Joe Biden
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Boston Irish

    Why is Obama so vocal on everything else but totally silent on this "untouchable" subject?? Either he has no clue what needs to be done or he's trying to word his answer so it kisses up to both sides. Well, I suggest he better get his act in gear and come up with an answer. Remember, the whole world is watching and waiting for what your great plan is.

    January 13, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  2. cat

    someone should ask Al-Hashimi if he is ready to fight for world peace and freedom. All people are Gods children. Will he stand up for us all.
    So that paleistine can finally be free

    January 13, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  3. Niky

    I am a biiiiiiiiiiig Obama supporter but I do have to agree Obama should have said something about this conflict specially because he didnt hold back his comments after mumbai attacks.

    January 13, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  4. Virginia

    How would Biden know what Obama thinks? He probably has his own agenda and with egos as big as their each are, no one will get anywhere. Besides, Obama needs to speak for himself, or is this the reverse of the McCain/Palin situation after the nomination?

    January 13, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  5. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BIDEN CAN ONLY SHIELD OBAMA FAR SO LONG!!!!!!
    ONCE OTHER COUNTRIES FIGURE OUT THAT HUISSAIN OBAMA HAS NO EXPERIENCE ITS GOING TO GET BAD!!!!!!!!!

    January 13, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. DP

    Sounds like his first challenge. I wonder if we will get two answers. The Palestine answer and the Israel answer similar to the speaches we heard in San Francisco.

    January 13, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    If you have any doubt about who's in charge of US policy in the Middle East, Google: "Olmert Says He Made Rice Change Vote"

    January 13, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. Dave

    When is Obama going to put a muzzle on Biden? Who knows what gaffes he's making on his final overseas junket.

    Is there a bill with his final shot of pork barrel earmarks somewhere in process to cement his Senate legacy.

    January 13, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Bonji

    Can you imagine Sarah Palin sitting there in this photo? My goodness I'm glad we don't have to see that.

    January 13, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. James

    Does "restoring our international image" include condemning Israel for defending itself against terrorists? Obama the honeymoon is over no more voting present!

    January 13, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Larry C. in Houston TX

    I hope Biden tells him : Hamas won't stop firing rockets until Israel stops building houses / settlements / Israeli gov't buildings / on THEIR Turf !!! Hamas isn't just firing rockets for absolutely NO reason ! Israel keeps "occupying" more & more territory, and is building settlements & towns for their own people ! As long as that continues to happen, their will never be any peace.....I am not pro Israel, and I'm not pro palestinian.....I'm pro Peace !!
    But, if Canada all of a sudden decides to build Gov't buildings, Houses / Canadian banks / Canadian Businesses / so the Canadians can build settlements in the good 'ol U.S.of A. – – – – (or if they took over New York) I think people will see things differently....

    The bottom line is : Israel needs to stay in their OWN Country ! (and not keep building houses on other people's Land ! )

    January 13, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  12. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Whats that, Obama is silent on important issues, Where have I herd that before.

    January 13, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. TCM

    I wonder if Biden's answer to Iraq's VP included the joke about the diner he was at the other day....that closed 20 yrs ago.....
    but, never fear. If he cannot think of words to say, he'll just steal someone else's!

    January 13, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  14. John, Encino, California

    So we're already getting anti-Israeli messages from the newly established democracy in Iraq. I wonder if Biden was quick enough to ask al-Hashimi what he thought of Hamas' missile attacks on Israel over the last 5 years. The Iraqi seems to be out of step with many other members of the Arab community who understand that Hamas provoked this conflict.

    January 13, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  15. BS not Maverick

    Silence is a signature, and one that is correct. The Hamas group does not care about the palestinians, if they did then they would seek peace/a better life for them. And the Palestinians don't care either because if they did then they would throw Hamas out on their ear. America is not stupid nor is the president elect. Iran is next if they don't wisen up.

    January 13, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. Andy J, Upstate NY

    Only the blind progressive Obamaphiles in America can't see the hypocrisy of Obama's silence on the Gaza issue.

    This guy is an opportunist. He will only say something when he is sure it won't make anyone mad. He only does the politically expedient thing, not the things he believes in. Otherwise, he would have taken a stance. He picks and chooses the issues he will take a stance on, god forbid he takes a stance on principle instead of political expedience.

    January 13, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  17. aware

    One President at a time?

    Bumbling Biden, with PEBO's permission, is sticking his nose in areas he should stay out of! :(

    January 13, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  18. Dylan from MN

    One week.

    January 13, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  19. FreeNLovIt

    Seriously, one Prez at a time. This is an international conflict and Obama does not need to be involved until he is Prez. For the economic front, this is an internal issue, where he deals directly with the US.

    January 13, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Ya like Joe "I am a Zionist" Biden really cares about Palestinians!

    January 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  21. steve

    How dare this arrogant man question Mr. Obama. He's not even in office yet. I think Mr. Obama should teach him a lesson and actually hold tough on his promise to bring the troops home by April.

    January 13, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  22. Art

    Please allow President elect Obama to take office. He can't go around now saying certain things, while Pres. Bush is still in office. If he can show some respect, the critics need to show some as well, along with these foreign countries. As Barak said, we can't have two president. Let President Bush finish his term and allow Obama to start his and I'm sure he will say what needs to be said then.

    January 13, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. Matt

    Obama's stance should be simple to state: Israel needs to stop it's racist, apartheid-style oppression and killing of the Palestinians TODAY. We wouldn't tolerate what they are doing from ANYONE else and God only knows why we tolerate it from them. In 3 WEEKS they've killed almost 1/4 of the number of our troops that have died in Iraq over 7 YEARS...and at least half of the Palestinian dead are innocent civilians, not occupying soldiers. Their vote to disallow Arabs from running for office should be considered the last straw and the act that finally dropped all pretense to their racist agenda. Enough Is Enough.

    January 13, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  24. dr.mimi de la cruz

    I STAY AWAKE AT NIGHT WORRYING ABOUT WHAT THE IRAQIS

    THINK ABOUT OUR NEW PRESIDENT. YOU BELIEVE THAT ONE,

    I HAVE A PLANET FOR SALE. WE COULDN'T CARE LESS.

    WE HAVE A PRESIDENT THAT PUTS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

    BEFORE ANYONE ELSE & THAT INCLUDES 4 STAR HOTELS FOR

    THE IRAQI BUSH FRIENDS. NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN BOOBY !!!

    January 13, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  25. Matt

    Sorry , but I needed to edit

    Obama's stance should be simple to state: Israel needs to stop it's racist, apartheid-style oppression and killing of the Palestinians TODAY. We wouldn't tolerate what they are doing from ANYONE else and God only knows why we tolerate it from them. In 3 WEEKS they've killed 1,000 Palestinians...almost 1/4 of the number of our troops that have died in Iraq over 7 YEARS…and at least half of the Palestinian dead are innocent civilians, not terrorists or occupying soldiers. Their vote to disallow Arabs from running for office should be considered the last straw and the act that finally dropped all pretense to their racist agenda. Enough Is Enough.

    January 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
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