Regional summit a big boost to Iraq

Filed on August 28, 2021 | Last updated on August 29, 2021 at 12.01 am
Picture retrieved from @HHShkMohd/Twitter

The UAE delegation was led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Arab heads of state and senior officials from the region including Iran held a rare meeting on Saturday in Baghdad hosted by Iraq.

The UAE delegation was led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The summit discussed a number of security, political and economic dossiers, in addition to emphasising support for the Iraqi government and the fight against terrorism.

In a speech during the opening of the summit, Iraq Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi said, “Terrorism represents a common threat to all, and Iraq refuses to use its territory as an arena of conflict.” He added that Baghdad summit embodies Iraq’s vision for cooperation, saying that there will be no foothold for terrorism in Iraq, no return to undemocratic routes and no absurd wars.

French President Emmanuel Macron also attended the Baghdad meeting, hailing it as a major boost for Iraq and its leadership.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, King Abdullah of Jordan and Qatar’s Emir His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were among those who attended the conference. On Saturday, Iraqi leaders were on hand at Baghdad International Airport to extend red carpet welcome to the arriving leaders. Iraqi special forces were deployed in Baghdad, particularly around the Green Zone, seat of the Iraqi government, where the meeting was held.

On the sidelines of the conference, Sheikh Mohammed met with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim, during which they exchanged views on the conference and its anticipated outcomes that are geared towards serving the lasting security and stability of Iraq.

The UAE and Qatar leaders also discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations in order to serve mutual development and progress, and achieve the common interests of the two brotherly countries.

Sheikh Mohammed also met with Kuwait Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah and discussed fraternal relations and ways of boosting cooperation.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid was accompanied by a high-profile delegation including Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs; Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; Dr. Anwar Gargash, Diplomatic Advisor to UAE President; Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Chairman of Protocols for the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Salem Issa Qattam, UAE Ambassador to Iraq.

The high-level meeting in Baghdad sent a message of Arab solidarity with Iraq.

“This summit marks the return of Iraq as a pivotal player in the region,” said political analyst Ihsan al-Shammari, who heads the Iraqi Political Thinking Center in Baghdad. “Having rival parties be seated at the same table is a significant step in that direction.”

Lebanon, which has been without a functional government for the past year, and Syria, which has been suspended from the Arab League since 2011, were not represented at the meeting.

Macron, whose country is co-organizing the meeting, described Saturday’s meeting as “historic,” showcasing Iraq’s return to stability following the ruinous war against the Islamic State group, which was defeated in 2017.

Sunday’s meeting was a chance for Iraqi leaders to underscore their recent efforts to portray Iraq as a neutral mediator in the region’s crises and re-engage with the world after decades of conflict.

“Iraq, which for years has been a headline for war and conflicts, is hosting leaders and representatives of the region today to affirm their support for Iraqi sovereignty and prosperity,” said President Barham Salih.

Earlier this year, Iraq hosted several rounds of direct talks between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, with mid-level officials discussing issues related to Yemen and Lebanon, according to Iraqi officials.

After decades of conflict, Iraq is seeking to reclaim a leadership role and status in the Arab world with a centrist policy and a determination among the country’s top leaders to maintain good relations with both Iran and the United States and its regional allies.

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