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Let Us Welcome the Egyptians - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Cairo did well to organize for its foreign minister to visit Baghdad, the first visit of its kind in nearly18 years. The importance of this visit lies in the timing and the significance of the political guest, which is indicative of greater Egyptian interaction regarding the sensitive issue of Iraq.

It is an important, positive and necessary indicator when an important country like Egypt takes action with respect to the Iraqi issue. The question that must always be asked is: if countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt do not act when it comes to Iraq then who will? For whom will they leave Iraq?

Undoubtedly, the Arab vacuum in Iraq will be filled by the Iranians on every level: politically, economically, on the level of national security, and even culturally, especially that we know that Iranian-imported books are being circulated in Iraq and sold at cheap prices.

The Arab presence, particularly the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian presence, does not intend to interfere in internal Iraqi affairs by turning one group against another for any given reason. We must recognize that whatever happens in Iraq, politically, economically, or regarding national security, will have some kind of impact on our region whether negatively or positively.

It is not enough for Arab countries to express their doubts from afar concerning the situation in Iraq and the Iranian role in this regard. They must be present on the ground and continue to work on all levels regarding Iraq.

Last week, Saudi Arabia reached a security agreement with Iraq sponsored by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin Abdulaziz and this is critical because security is the most important of issues in our region.

Egypt today, by re-establishing political ties with Iraq through the Egyptian foreign minister’s visit, is accomplishing a good deed. However, what is required now is more communication between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Egypt to help establish a clear picture of what is truly happening in Iraq and to give Iraqi political circles a dose of rationality.

This relationship with Iraq will pave the way for greater political opportunity for the Iraqis and will help create a balance regarding the decision-making process in Iraq. Instead of the Iraqis having no other option but Iran, the choice will be either Iran or the Arab countries in their entirety.

This is not criticism of other Arab countries inasmuch as it is the truth of which numerous Arab politicians are aware; paving the way for ties between Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Egypt will create a new reality in Iraq and the least that can be said in this regard is that it is a positive move.

The world today is facing severe political and economic obstacles with the global financial crisis causing a storm all over the world, and the results of the upcoming American elections, not to mention Iranian plots in the region, and the inability to guess what Damascus’ next move might be.

All of this means that we must not wait for the situation to get worse in Iraq as that will affect other countries in the region in one way or another, especially Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and we have said this a number of times before. Some might say that Saudi and Egyptian action has come too late but better late than never!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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