Sharam El-Sheikh Conference: What is Next?

  • 6 May 2007

Iraq received a large measure of support at the international conference held for two days at the Egyptian resort of Sharam El-Sheikh, attended by many international, regional, and influential powers. The Iraqi government, presided over by Nouri Al-Maliki, received support for its efforts to strengthen national reconciliation, and for the unity, sovereignty, and independence of Iraq. Countries attending the conference made a commitment not to interfere in the internal affairs of Iraq and waived its foreign debt by around $30 billion. However, the conference also called on the government of Nouri Al-Maliki for carrying out important tasks and obligations, such as expanding the scope of political participation, the disbandment of militias and finding solutions for the sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in order to achieve national reconciliation. Iraq is receiving major international and regional support that should be perceptible in reality, so that Iraqis feel the difference in their lives. At the same time, the Iraqi government needs to make a corresponding effort at different levels, particularly in its project for national reconciliation that was launched by Al-Maliki at the beginning of his term in office, but has since proved to be shaky.

Although the world entered into an international agreement at Sharm El-Sheikh on Iraq, there seems to be an urgent need for an “Iraqi commitment” that unites different Iraqi movements and forces under a common framework. This framework should open the way for the participation of the forces in the political process. It should formulate steps for building confidence among various factions, drive out sectarianism and strengthen the concept of a unified Iraq for all its people without distinction. It should check the proliferation of weapons and militias that threaten the political and security situation in the Iraqi arena, and should make transparency the motto for the future.

Some have considered the Sharm El-Sheikh conference the last chance to save Iraq from its crises. For this reason, the conference made many important decisions. However, what is more important than announcing decisions is to implement them. In order to implement the decisions, there should be a collective will to work seriously for getting Iraq out of its security and political crises. If the parties at Sharm El-Sheikh have expressed this will through their discussions, decisions and commitments, it remains to be seen whether the Iraqi government could achieve reconciliation, confront sectarianism, and stand in the face of all the trends that are pushing it toward irrelevance.