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

Iraqi VP questions Biden on Obama's Gaza stance

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/13/art.bideniraq0113.gi.jpg caption="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. Cindy

    This feels familiar. It's like the phone calls I got from my kids... "Waaahh, I want what sis got, tell her to give it to me mommy! Not fair! You pay more attention to her than to me! Waaaahh!!"

    I think, Obama and his team are watching these countries... analyzing them. I don't expect them to react to everyone that cries out, because that'll just signal the other potential criers that's how it's suppose to be done, crying for attention, instead of working on solutions.

    January 13, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. David

    tell the truth Biden. Let them know that BO now has to answer to his new bosses and they told him he has to support Israel.

    January 13, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. david goldman

    WHAT A SHAME !!!




    January 13, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. mark

    Joe, you have to stress the importance of the famous THREE letter word....."J--O--B--S"

    You idiot

    January 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    It's more than just the "new administration's" reputation on the line, it's that of the entire country. Quite literally, Obama can make or break US interests in the mid-east by what he says and does.

    For more than half a century, Israel has been oppressing Palestinians, whose country they stole in 1948, and then have the temerity to be "outraged" when their victims object to that abuse and use that objection as an excuse for attacks and further oppression.

    We can go on defending and subsidising Israel's lethal bullying of its neighbors, or we can begin to treat all parties fairly.

    January 13, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. malik

    Finally, a man who asks the new administration a real and honest question

    January 13, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. PJP

    May that is what America needs, 2 vice-presidents!!

    January 13, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. matt

    "Three letter word....J-O-B-S" – Joe Biden, the idiot

    January 13, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Rob

    And who's comments did Biden borrow in his response? Did he say it was America's patriotic duty to turn its back and run on Iraq?

    January 13, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Jackie in Dallas

    I believe that President Elect Obama is correct in not getting himself actively involved in the politics of the Gaza conflict until after his inauguration. Unfortunately, we still have President Bush for the next week. I think that ALL of the Middle Eastern players will get an earful of thoughtful analysis of the situation come January 21st!

    January 13, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  11. Tom in Delaware

    I guess the reason that Obama spoke out against the attacks in Mumbai and not against the attacks in Gaza is because one was a terrorist attack on a nation, and the other is a nation attacking terrorists...duh!

    Stop trying to equivicate the two, because they're apples and oranges.

    Funny how there are more Americans protesting against the Israelis than there are Iraqis, but I guess that Pravda (MSM) doesn't consider that newsworthy.

    If the media covered the German and Japanese causalties during the Second World War the same way they do the poor little Palestinians, we wouldn't have been victorious, but that's the point, right?

    January 13, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  12. tpbco

    World's watching Obama, whatcha go do now. They've already caught you once, are going tp now condemn Isreal – AFTER that heartwarming trip and speech of a couple of months ago?

    Maybe being Prez is a little tougher than it looks....

    January 13, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. JT Johnson

    Everyone should be greatly concerned about Obama's silence on Israel and the Gaza terrorists. Obama will not call the muslim terrorists "terrorists" because they are his buddies. How much of the Save America From Itself funds will Obama try to designate to HAMAS?

    January 13, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. dan

    I just want to hear Dumb Joe say,
    "the three letter word........J–O–B–S"

    January 13, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  15. Ameer in NJ

    He is right. Obama spoke about the Mumbai attacks but does not want to talk about the terrible things happening to the Gazan people. Obama has sympathy for the Palestinians but understands that if he says anything that would be anti- Israel he would be blasted by AIPAC, Foxnews, and the Far- Right. Please President Elect Obama, you are the only one who can end this.

    January 13, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Iraq has a government?

    you certainly fooled me, they have a welfare line and a salvation army

    If they have a government lets get our troops out and let them govern, otherwise I think they should keep their questions and opinions to themselves

    January 13, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Marie banderas

    What this article leaves out, is exactly what Biden told Iraq...Obama is right, he can DO nothing until after Jan 20th...why is that so hard for other countries, leaders to understand ?????

    January 13, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. Franky

    "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."

    You know, let alone everybody has an opinion about our president-elect and quite frankly, where were they years or even decades ago?? All of a sudden people think that we have a new elected president everybody is gonna do what the hell they want?? If I was advising the new administration, I'll be like the Pats organization. Be cool and slick...and a a–whole.

    Either you want that or nothing at all, is your decision.

    January 13, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


    January 13, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  20. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


    January 13, 2009 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    And Obama thinks he can fix the middle east. These people are the oldest civilization and having a confused president with a muslim name for a middle name would appear to them as halfrican. As if Clinton a white woman make any difference at all. Obama's win just makes the case bolder whatever they stand is. Thanks to 97% of ignorant, materialistic consumers in America. I think America's respect is lost forever in the middle east. Diplomatic approach has to change. Good luck!

    January 13, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. shoegazer

    Question his silence AFTER January 20th.Until then,unfortunately,
    Shrub is still the president.

    January 13, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. GA for Obama

    Marie banderas- What's so hard is at least Obama SHOULD (not can) issue statements supporting the Palestinians.

    Wanna know a simple way to permanently defeat terrorism?
    SHOW RESPECT towards Muslims and Palestinians. If America does that, we will be great again.

    Just like President Johnathan Fitzgerald Kennedy.

    January 13, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  24. Michael, Houston Texas

    To Iraq has a government: Ditto and bravo! Hey Tariq al-Hashimi, how about you worry about your own country, last time we checked , the only reason why you have a job is because of the United States so shut up and fix your own crap before you start questionin OUR VP elect about other people's crap.

    January 13, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  25. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


    January 13, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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