Iraq okay with moving the Arab summit: official

Ahmed Eleiba , Wednesday 20 Apr 2011

Iraq respects any decision taken by the Arab League regarding the time and place of the next Arab summit, Iraq's permanent ambassador to the league tells Ahram Online

Iraq's Permanent Ambassador to the Arab League Qais Al-Azzawi said that his country respects the decision to delay the Arab summit, scheduled to be held in May in Baghdad, due to the current uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.

He added in interview with Ahram Online that the Iraqi government is eager to host the Arab summit, its first in decades.

The Iraqi government was looking to the Arab summit as a means to reinforce its stability and legitimacy in face of growing economic and political challenges in Iraq.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) called on the Arab League to cancel the annual summit, rescheduled from March for next month in Baghdad. The request came in the wake of complaints by Bahrain — Saudi Arabia’s GCC ally — of Iraqi interference with the Shia of Bahrain, urging them to call for political reform of the ruling Sunni monarchy.

“Saudi Arabia conditioned holding the summit in another country or cancelling it, due to the statement given by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki that criticised the Saudi role in Bahrain and considered it as interference in Bahrain's internal affairs,” Al-Azzawi said. He added that the Saudis felt offended by Al-Maliki's statement, which took the same position as that of Iran on the issue.

Iraqi lawmakers complained the GCC decision was unnecessary at a time when the Arab world is plagued by simmering political unrest.

The Arab summit was supposed to be held in March in Baghdad, but Oman requested to delay the summit due to revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.  

Al-Azzawi says that Iraq is ready to put all misunderstandings aside. He added that Baghdad is hoping to host the summit during Amr Moussa's time as secretary general, due to his efforts to support Iraq at this critical time. He noted that Iraq would not mind for the summit to held in any other Arab country, so long as the majority of Arab League members want that.

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