Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Arab Summit

Yesterday Iraq was slammed with violence that claimed over fifty lives and left over two hundred injured, "just days before Baghdad hosts a landmark Arab summit," Eleanor Hall observed this morning on The World Today (Australia's ABC, link is text and audio) leading into a report by Meredith Griffiths on the violence.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: This is despite the fact for the past couple of days intensive searches at checkpoints have ground Baghdad to a halt. Security had been ramped up in preparation for a meeting of the Arab world's top leaders. It's the first time the Arab League have met in Baghdad in 20 years, and the government considers it the most important diplomatic event yet for post-Saddam Iraq. Officials had been hoping to use the summit to showcase the country's improved security since the sectarian fighting a few years ago that almost pulled the country into civil war.

Trend News Agency notes, "Holding the next summit of the League of Arab States in Iraq demonstrates the restoration of stability and resumption of its role in the Arab and regional areas, Iraqi ambassador to Kazakhstan, Sabir Abbud Al-Musaui told Trend today." It does no such thing. The Arab League Summit is two days. Al Rafidayn reports that the capital will be closed down for seven days. When you have to shut down the capital for seven days to hold a two day event, that's not a sign of success.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspaers) reports, "Only Monday, Iraqi authorities began practicing security procedures for the summit, flooding existing checkpoints with large numbers of special forces troops and setting up new checkpoints, where they searched cars with dogs, looking for explosives." Al Mada notes that, this morning, it might take as much as three hours for someone living in Baghdad to get to their job in Baghdad and that might require them leaving their car at some point and continuing on foot. Does Nouri al-Maliki really think that if these measures are successful it says anything about Baghdad other than that they can put the city on crackdown for seven days? Does this enstill trust in foreign investors?

As for the summit, Middle East North Africa Financial Network doesn't expect much from the summit:

One thing is certain and that is that the Baghdad summit will be anything but remarkable. Egypt will be busy preparing for its presidential election, the first since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, Libya, Tunis and Yemen have enough domestic problems of their own. The Gulf countries will find it difficult to demonize Iran when the host has special relations with Tehran, while attempts to discuss the uprising in Bahrain will be foiled by the GCC group.

Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports Nouri has called for all Iraqis to unite. Spreading love apparently means then launching into an attack on Ayad Allawi who, apparently, isn't included included in the call for uniting. Al Mada reports Nouri has declared Allawi is bad for the government of Iraq. Nouri's upset because Allawi's announced if the top four demands for the national conference aren't implemented in 72 hours Iraqiya will consider walking out. This would be highly embarrassing to Nouri with the Arab leaders visiting. Especially since most of the Arab leaders can't stand Nouri. (As most Iraqi press has noted, Saudi Arabia is only participating because the US has badgered and cajoled them non-stop.)

In violence news, Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) notes a Baghdad home invasion in which the throats of the "mother and her three children" were slit. Al Rafidayn notes a tribal sheik was assassinated in Rawa.
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