News

Sharm el-Sheikh Conference on Iraq Offers US Interaction with Countries in the Region

Multimedia

Audio

The recent international conference on Iraq held in Sharm el-Sheikh was the biggest and most inclusive diplomatic push to end that nation’s security crisis since the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.  During an unannounced visit to Baghdad earlier this week, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney says he pressed Iraqi leaders to make progress on pending security and political issues.  Vice President Cheney is also visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan to garner their support in helping to stabilize Iraq.

According to many analysts, the U.S.-Syrian meeting on the sidelines of the Sharm el-Sheikh conference was a long anticipated breakthrough.  Syria’s Ambassador to Washington described Secretary Rice’s meeting with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem as “significant.”  Speaking with host Judith Latham of VOA News Now’s International Press Club, Nadia Bilbassy, senior diplomatic correspondent for Al-Arabiya television, says that’s the way the Arab World sees it, too.  She says Secretary Rice told the Syrians that Washington wants Damascus to do more to seal its borders and stop foreign fighters from entering Iraq.  Syria’s Ambassador to Washington later described the high-level meeting as a “tipping point” in U.S.- Syrian bilateral relations.  Ms. Bilbassy says it seems to signal a “change in attitude … regarding the two pariah states” – Syria and Iran – that the United States had refused to talk to.

Gerard Baker, U.S. editor of The Times of London, says that people in Britain also see the meeting as a breakthrough, even though “they don’t expect anything much to come of it.”  Mr. Baker says the British are “pretty pessimistic” about Iraq.  There is, however, a belief that Washington should talk with countries in the region, whatever it may think of their policies regarding Iraq.

Although no high-level meeting took place between Secretary Rice and her Iranian counterpart at Sharm el-Sheikh, her chief coordinator for Iraq and America’s Ambassador to Iraq did meet with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for a few minutes.  People in the Arab World see that as promising, according to Nadia Bilbassy, and there is an “understanding in the region that Iranian influence has to be halted.”

Iranian journalist Ali-Reza Nourizadeh, who directs the Center for Arab-Iranian Studies in London, says he faults the Iranian Foreign Minster for using an entertainer’s red dress as a “pretext” to leave a diplomatic dinner early.  And in that way, he could avoid speaking with the U.S. Secretary of States.  But Mr. Nourizadeh says Iranians were not fooled because they had earlier seen President Ahmadinejad sitting with the Emir of Qatar, watching dances during opening ceremonies of the Asian Games in Doha.  Unfortunately, he says Iran lost an important opportunity.  Mr. Nourizadeh also says that not addressing the stabilization of Iraq makes no practical sense because Iran certainly does not want to see Iraq fall apart, which would in fact be a “nightmare” scenario for Tehran.

On the other hand, Nadia Bilbassy says Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s promise to accelerate political reforms, to reconcile ethnic groups, and to disband and disarm all militias was greeted with much “skepticism” in the Arab World.  British journalist Gerard Baker says people in Britain do not find the Iraqi Prime Minister’s promise of reform and national reconciliation credible either.  The view in Washington is that success in Iraq depends largely on the “political will” of the Prime Minister and it remains to be seen whether benchmarks for progress on the political front will be met.

To listen to all of the comments, click on the audio link above

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs