Baghdad steps up security ahead of planned Arab League summit

Ahram Online , Wednesday 14 Mar 2012

Iraqi authorities ramp up security amid expectations of increased terrorist activity in run-up to Arab League's Baghdad summit slated for later this month

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Mourners at funeral of slain goldsmiths in eastern Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday (Photo: AP)

Sources at Iraq's interior ministry told pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Wednesday that Iraqi intelligence services expected a wave of terrorist attacks ahead of a scheduled Arab League summit in Baghdad at the end of the month.

The source added that Baghdad had suffered a wave of attacks immediately after the Iraqi capital was announced as the venue for the upcoming summit. Some observers believe the attacks are meant to frighten Arab leaders from attending the summit.

Iraqi authorities have deployed an unprecedented number of security forces throughout the city in anticipation of additional attacks, with an estimated 26,000 security personnel – from both the north and south of the country – being deployed around the capital.

The Shiite-led government of President Nouri Al-Maliki announced its decision to host the upcoming summit in Baghdad in an effort to highlight the relative stability in the war-torn nation. The decision comes two months after a complete US troop withdrawal from Iraq, which ended nine years of occupation by US forces.   

Iraqi MP Asmaa Al-Mosawy, who sits on parliament's security and defence committee, told Al-Hayat that the wave of attacks by various militant groups represented a failed attempt to derail the planned summit.

The shadowy militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq has claimed responsibility for 94 military operations carried out in north Baghdad between the end of January and the end of February of this year. The international terror outfit knows as “Al-Qaeda,” meanwhile, has claimed responsibility for 43 attacks in Baghdad alone within the same period.    

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