An Important UAE Step Towards Iraq

  • 9 June 2009

UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed Al Nahyan's announcement that the UAE will re-open its embassy in Baghdad and appoint an ambassador came as an important initiative toward Iraq. The embassy will be the first Arab diplomatic mission to be re-opened at the ambassadorial level which highlights the special significance that the UAE has for helping Iraq.

In reality, this announcement comes as part of continuous efforts by the UAE to assist Iraq. Of special mention is the UAE's eager hosting of the first preparatory meeting of "the International Contract with Iraq" which was held in Abu Dhabi in September 2006 and which issued the Abu Dhabi Declaration. The UAE also hosted the "Donors Committee for the International Fund" for Iraqi reconstruction which was itself held in Abu Dhabi in February 2004. This in addition to other conferences of support for Iraq. The UAE also trained cadres of Iraq's diplomats, policemen, managers, and finance officials as part of inter-country cooperation. Moreover, UAE donations to the Iraqi people reached $100 million and included charitable assistance and projects the latest of which was UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's donation of $10 million to support UNHCR's efforts for Iraqi refugees in Syria.

Sheikh Abdulla's initiative is important for the following reasons. First, it comes at a time when Iraq passes through a critical moment where it is experiencing many developments that will have an impact on its future, necessitating its Arab brothers' support and assistance. Second, this UAE decision opens the door for the return of other Arab ambassadors to Iraq. Indeed, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zibari has said that his country has received assurances from many Arab countries that their ambassadors would return to Baghdad soon. According to Zibari, these countries are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Jordan which said that it will name an ambassador soon. This makes the UAE move toward Iraq a true transformational step, as the Iraqi minister called it. Third, this initiative reflects the dynamism of UAE diplomacy and the effectiveness of its regional maneuvering, two important mechanisms for dealing with the developments in the area at the present time and at the required level.

Iraq desperately needs Arab countries' support at this critical stage. Iraq has suffered from the absence of the Arab role for security reasons, but the time has come to re-activate that role since improvements have taken place in the land of Mesopotamia regarding the rule of law, economic development supported by the rise in oil revenues, and the government's efforts to ensure peace and stability.