The Iraqi Governing Council has won the country's vacant seat in the Arab League, at least temporarily. The Arab League set conditions for the council's continued representation.
After a lengthy meeting extending almost until dawn, the Arab League foreign ministers agreed to allow the Iraqi Governing Council to represent Iraq on a temporary basis.
The decision avoided a potential public showdown with the U.S.-appointed council, whose newly named foreign minister had pledged earlier to fill the seat with or without Arab League approval.
The league's foreign ministers agreed to allow IGC representation for a one-year trial period, at the end of which the council's status would be re-evaluated. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa called for a speedy end to Iraq's occupation.
"There is no doubt that the occasion demands fast movement toward the end of the occupation," he said. "The decision was made in the context of the greater Arab interest and the protection of the Iraqi identity and national unity."
The league's conditions include evidence of steps toward the formation of a permanent Iraqi government, the drafting of a constitution, and a concrete timetable for the end of the U.S. occupation.
Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari promised that the end of the occupation was a shared priority by all parties. "Iraq will return and in the fastest possible time and will resume its role in the Arab world," he said.
The vote to admit the Governing Council representatives was unanimous, but not without controversy. Libya's foreign minister skipped the opening ceremony, where he was scheduled to hand over the league's rotating presidency.
Exactly how strictly the league will interpret its conditions, when the time comes, is a matter of speculation. The league remains divided over the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein and equally divided over its aftermath.