Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The League of Arab States in Baghdad…Finally! | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Fear is the very reason that Arab officials, including those of the League of Arab States, refrain from visiting Iraq. They are actually free of blame in this regard, because the danger is a truly conspicuous one. We address this matter in light of the upcoming visit to Baghdad by the Assistant Secretary General of the Arab league, Ahmed Bin Holi, to whom we wish much success and safety in his trip.

There is a range of dangers in Iraq, yet they are all disguised by the name Al Zarqawi as well as other terrorists, who may not be affiliated with the crimes attributed to them, especially in cases that have afflicted major Iraqi or foreign officials.

A refrain from Iraq affairs by Arab leaders and officials for two consecutive years has caused a great political vacuum that has led to the escalating political crises threatening not only Iraq but also the whole region. Political communication with key decision makers, participating parties or even pressure groups has been restrained, and the result has been an Iraq that resembles Sri Lanka, in the sense that its internal circumstances are only recognized via media or foreign parties.

The League of Arab States has failed to manage the Iraqi crises even remotely. From the very beginning, it had overestimated the demagogue”s opinion in Arab societies and this led to the refraining of tackling the new status in the region. Unfortunately, governments still hide the opinion of these demagogues to protect their own interests. The Arab League did not distinguish between its dealing with its interests on one hand, and its sentiments on the other hand. It underestimated the dangers that may appear suddenly because of the carelessness behind the Iraqi crisis.

I recall an interview two years back, with one of the Arab ambassadors to the Arab League, when he elaborated on the League”s strategy. He stated that according to the wishes of various Arab parties, the strategy of the League of Arab States is based upon abandonment of crises until the storm is dispelled, and Iraqis decide for themselves what better suits their interests. He added that the League of Arab States is strongly committed to the concept of non-intervention in the affairs of neighboring countries. This idea was made very clear by the foreign ministers conferences in the five neighboring countries to Iraq, in addition to Egypt.

Yet believing that neighboring countries will not interfere in the Iraqi crises and redirect its course according to their own interests is an extremely naïve belief. Any political expert, who truly understands the Arab region, will simply realize that such a pledge of non-interference that had been discussed and accredited in many conferences of neighboring countries, is not worth the paper that it is written on. The bare truth is presented before everybody only to prove the naivety of such an option.

So where did the League of Arab States go wrong? The first of its mistakes was its fear of provoking the Arab nationalism movement that had led the entire region into a series of crises in the past, from Palestine right through to Iraq. The second mistake was despite its recognition of the new Iraqi regime; it had refrained from participating in the creation of a new Iraqi political mechanism, from elections to drafting the Iraqi constitution through the mobilization of all Iraqi powers. This stance is incomprehensible as the new Iraqi status was granted legitimacy by the United Nations.

The League of Arab States had discarded Iraq to be plundered by two types of Iraqis. One is disguised in a masquerade of terrorism who helplessly wants to recur the past. The other group has opened the door for Iranian involvement with its golden opportunity to consolidate its presence in Iraq.

With the introduction of two extra foreign parties, Al Qaeda and Iran, Iraq has become a battlefield where everyone is involved except the League of Arab States.