Beginning of an Effective Arab Role in Iraq

  • 4 January 2010

After a period of absence, following the resignation of its representative in Baghdad in early 2009, the Arab League has returned to Iraq by sending its new representative, Naji Ahmed Shalgham, recently to the country. The Arab League representative confirmed that his presence in Iraq was confirmation of the continuing role of Arab League toward promoting national reconciliation and for providing support to Iraqis in various fields.

The Prime Minister of Iraq recently called for the consolidation of Arab presence in his country. In recent years, there have been several Arab initiatives in support of Baghdad. The most noteworthy among these initiatives have been those led by the United Arab Emirates, for example the announcement by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed on waiving the entire debt Iraq owed to the UAE (worth US $4 billion), the visit by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Baghdad in October 2008, and the visit to Iraq by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs in June 2008. It is clear that there is willingness among Iraqis for development of full-fledged relations and ties with Arab countries; the affirmation of the identity of Iraq and any Arab state in this regard is welcome.

Undoubtedly, the arrival of the new Arab League representative to Baghdad could mark an important step toward building an effective Arab role in Iraq, especially as the country is about to witness crucial times that would play a central role in determining its future, particularly the upcoming parliamentary elections in March and the scheduled withdrawal of US forces in 2011.

 The improved security situation, which was once a major constraint facing Arab diplomatic and political presence in Iraq, and the marked reduction in ethnic and sectarian clashes, augurs well for this presence in coming times. It would help Iraq and Iraqis to take hands on approach on security issues, as well as the political and economic situation in the country in a manner that would promote coexistence, citizenship and national reconciliation.

Iraq is a highly important country for the Arab world, in terms of history, location and potentials. Therefore, it should serve as a strong force in joint Arab action and added strength for Arab power, as well as a means for achieving strategic balance in Gulf and Middle East. This makes Arab presence in the Iraq extremely important, especially as some powers are trying to weaken it and isolate it from its Arab moorings and are plotting to turn it into an arena for sectarian and ethnic conflicts, as well as for settling accounts and for extending influence.