Despite the sweltering heat in Baghdad, the streets were full of positive energy. Shops and cafes were open, and people were moving freely; almost like the city had not witnessed decades of devastation and ruin. When I felt this positive energy, I rejoiced at the fact that Iraqis are nothing if not resilient.
For four decades, Iraq had become a symbol of misery and destruction. Starting from the Iranian Iraqi War, to the Invasion of Kuwait and the blockade that followed, to the US Invasion of Iraq and the resulting devastation of the entire country.
In January 2011, when American troops were pulled out of Iraq’s territories, ISIS crawled out of their nests to launch a long-term campaign of mass destruction and slaughter, blowing every sign of life in sight to smithereens.
Eventually, Iraqis managed repel ISIS’ forces, and the country finally managed to attain some modicum of security. However, ISIS, desperate to remain a looming menacing presence, occasionally executes sporadic bombings around the country from time to time.
Yet, despite four decades of tragedy and ruin, Iraqis are hosting the ‘Neighbourhood Summit’, where a good number of Arab and foreign leaders will be making an appearance.
Baghdad will thus build a bridge of cooperation and brotherly ties and establish new horizons for peace and security throughout the region.
The country which has been a hotspot for destruction, calamities, and regional disputes is now leading the region towards peace, development, and prosperity.
Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan have been working hard to promote the launching of a new era of regional cooperation and development which is currently becoming a reality in the Neighbourhood Summit.
It is beyond doubt that security must come first. To work towards stability and holistic development, security must be part and parcel of regional states’ efforts.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has been insistent in all his appearances in the United Nations as well as African, Asian, and European forums that uprooting terrorism and settling disputes among nations are imperative to achieving sustainable development.
Baghdad has thus become a bridge where Arab states will meet with their regional and international counterparts to approach the dream that their peoples have been longing to accomplish for decades.
The region has also been looking forward to resolving the refugee crisis and mitigating the effects of climate change — including pollution, destructive earthquakes, floods, forest fires, and the dry weather that has become commonplace around the earth — both of which require serious collaboration on the regional and international levels.
Baghdad will become a model of positive and creative human effort stemming from the peoples’ capability to stand up for their lives and their country.
Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan have worked together to lay the foundations for a new Middle East, building new ties based on cooperation that could and should be extended throughout the region.
I believe that these efforts will be met with the right response from fellow Arabs, simply because the people have been paying dearly for the long-present turmoil within their nations and, therefore, are well aware of the dire need for peace, security, and above all economic development.
Recently, the three states have been working hard to make this dream come true; with construction on an electric network that connects the three states underway as well as an extension of oil transport pipelines from Basra in Iraq to Aqaba in Jordan and then to Sinai in Egypt among the most recent mega projects spanning the Middle Eastern trifecta.
Iraqi oil will, thus, find an outlet on the Mediterranean at a time when Baghdad welcomed Egyptian corporations to take part in the reconstruction process of the electric networks and water pipelines.
It is high time for Iraqis to breathe freely and turn Baghdad into a city for peace and development and move on from the dark days of yesteryear when it was ground zero for regional and international disputes.
The ongoing cooperation between Amman, Baghdad, and Cairo is a shift in policy away from warmongering and closer to rebuilding and rebirthing the states that have always been critical to the world’s history.
The three states have the political and economic power — as well as the common views and shared clear goals — to achieve their targets of establishing peace, security, fighting terrorism, and putting an end to the occupation of lands and resources.
The steps that have been taken are expected to produce tangible results and push forward cooperation among the three states, which could easily spread to other Arab countries in Asia and Africa. This tri-partite forum will spread a culture of peace and cooperation and maintain sustainable development all over the region.