Author: Wissam Keyrouz and W.G. Dunlop
BAGHDAD — Despite the absence of key leaders, heavy-handed security measures and resolutions seen as soft, the fact that Iraq managed to host an Arab summit at all has been hailed as a success.
Delayed by a year as a result of the Arab Spring uprisings and concerns over security in Baghdad, the two days of ministerial meetings followed by a summit at the former Republican Palace went off as scheduled, although a mortar attack pierced the security operation the day of the summit, but caused no casualties.
Iraq analyst Reidar Visser dubbed the summit, the first to be held in Baghdad in 22 years, a “landmark achievement.”
“The main achievement was simply holding the summit in a reasonably businesslike manner and attracting 10 heads of state, meaning the notion of Iraq’s marginalisation in the Arab world is no longer true,” said Visser, editor of the Iraq-focused website http://www.historiae.org.
“Holding the summit also sent a signal that Iraq is not as fragile internally as some pundits claim.”
In all, 10 regional leaders including Iraq attended the summit out of the 22-member Arab League, while United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon also took part. Syria, whose membership has been suspended, was not invited.
Iraq had said before the summit it expected around 10 heads of state to attend.
Notably absent, however, were the Gulf countries, apart from the emir of Kuwait who made the first visit to Iraq by a Kuwaiti head of state since Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion.
The snub was seen as a sign of a split within the Arab League.