Arab absence from the Conference of the International Compact with Iraq, which was held recently in Stockholm, can only be described as negligence.
How can the attendance of both the Iranian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State be justified in light of the absence of their Arab counterparts, with the exception of Jordan? This Arab neglect is unjustifiable as is the insistence of dropping Baghdad’s debts is at present.
Arab diplomatic absence from Baghdad is also unjustifiable; it is true that the Arabs have some reservations concerning the Iraqi government, some of which are warranted, while some are due to a lack of communication. However in contrast, Iraq can not be left for Iran to transform it into a theatrical stage, and then be satisfied with laying the entire blame on the Iraqi government.
Arab Presence in Baghdad helps to stabilize and improve the interests of Iraq and the Arabs as a whole, while also reducing Iranian expansion. Issues like these need to be stated bluntly to the Arabs and Iraqis.
The Arabs should be aware that their presence in Iraq does not mean turning it into a combat zone with the Iranians, or supporting one sect against another, it is rather to help them consolidate the Arab identity of their country and stabilize it.
Arab presence in Baghdad means communicating and knowing what the truth on the ground really is. When Arab ambassadors go to Baghdad, they will be shocked at what the Iranians have been doing there. Therefore, it is a mistake to abandon Iraq, no matter what the security circumstances are.
I recently asked an Arab Official how he justified his country’s absence from Iraq, to which he directly responded, “We have committed a blatant mistake in disregarding Iraq. To be honest, we have buried our heads in the sand, which is not a policy.”!
As for the Iraqi side goes, we must acknowledge that canceling debts needs trust and guarantees which are currently lost today. Debts cancellation should not be Iraq’s main concern at every conference or the subject of every official statement, unless the motivation behind it is to embarrass the Arabs and cause further alienation.
Iraqi officials know what the most important reason behind Arab hesitation in dropping Iraq’s debts, which has been stated previously in an official capacity; How do we guarantee if Arab nations dropped the debt that Abdulaziz al Hakim and his allies in the Iraqi government, would not turn around and give Iran $100 billion in compensation for the war that broke out between Iraq and Iran, as Abdulaziz has previously stated? And if the door of compensation were to be opened I do not know how much Iran would compensate the Arabs for the likes of Hassan Nasrallah, Khalid Mishal and the Syrian regime for its support of them?
Another matter that should be recognized by the Iraqi government is the necessity of achieving internal reconciliation, in which no party will be excluded for the benefit of another. Unfortunately, what is currently taking place inside Iraq is done with narrow-minded partisan and sectarian motivations that disregard the fact that Iraq is for all Iraqis. Those who live in Iraq realize the danger of what is taking place on the ground.
In order to strengthen security and coexistence for the sake of achieving stability, Baghdad’s government should proceed with all its efforts to attain national reconciliation, instead of demanding the cancellation of its debts at present. Moreover, the Arabs should have a presence inside Iraq and establish communication with its entire spectrum, only then would there be a common and solid ground to discuss all relevant issues.