Iraq's foreign minister on Monday insisted his country was not pressured into abstaining from a vote to suspend Syria from the Arab League, saying Baghdad does not take orders from others.
Iraq was the only country to abstain when the Arab League voted Saturday to suspend Syria because of its bloody, 8-month-old crackdown on protesters calling for reforms. Iraq's relationship with neighboring Iran, a Shiite-majority country with close ties to Syria, has sparked questions about whether Iraq's abstention was due in part to Iranian pressure.
"There have been accusations against the Iraqi government of following orders from another country," Hoshyar Zebari said. "As the foreign minister of Iraq, I deny such allegations."
Zebari didn't name any specific country, but Iran maintains a strong influence in Iraq. Tehran has also been a key supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose regime is dominated by the Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, though Syria is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim.