News

Iraqi Reconciliation Conference Begins in Cairo

Iraqi politicians have started a three-day reconciliation conference in Cairo, sponsored by the Arab League. The meeting includes almost all of Iraq's ethnic and religious factions, many of whom are in deep disagreement over some key political issues. The Arab League is trying to bring them together.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa welcomed the Iraqis to Cairo, saying that, only a sense of real unity across ethnic and religious lines can keep the battered country together. He said the whole region needs to support that effort.

He says, "Protecting Iraq and immunizing it against the danger of slipping into sedition or civil war is in the Arabs' best interest. From a political and logical perspective, it is even in the Iranian, Turkish and international interests. No one will benefit from turning Iraq into a battleground for regional and international conflicts and tensions."

The Arab League has recently boosted its involvement in the Iraqi peace process. Mr. Moussa recently made his first trip to Baghdad since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

The Cairo summit is designed to bring different factions together, and start working toward a political deal that can end the violence. But even agreeing on who could attend the meeting has been a challenge.

Several Sunni politicians had pushed for more participation from former Baath party members and ex-Saddam-era officials, who are now living in neighboring states. But the interim government, dominated by Shi'ites and Kurds who were brutally repressed under Saddam Hussein, has ruled that out.

In his address to the Cairo conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari was blunt.

He says, "But we have drawn a red line. There is no room for Baathists in Iraq. This is not a personal decision that I announce from the Arab League platform, it is an Iraqi reality. The time has passed for Iraq to be manhandled by one man. Iraq today is a laboratory of heroes."

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani echoed the prime minister's statement.

He says, "Our national unity and reconciliation does not include, under any circumstances, the murderers and criminals among the followers of the old regime, who have left us with mass graves."

In a later speech, the head of the influential Sunni Muslim Scholars Association, Harith al-Dari, called the Iraqi insurgency a "legitimate response to occupation," and he said it is getting stronger. He told the meeting that the insurgency is stronger today than it was a year ago.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa was among the Arab League participants at the opening ceremony. Iraq has accused several of its neighbors, including Syria, of sheltering members of Saddam Hussein's regime and family, and of failing to keep foreign militants from crossing their borders into Iraq to join the insurgency.

In the Arab League conference hall, Mr. Talabani addressed his countrymen and other delegates in Arabic, rather than his native Kurdish.

He says, "Our new Iraq is at peace with its neighbors. We are a friend to those who befriend us, and enemy only of those who are against us."

About 100 Iraqi leaders are attending the three-day conference, being held about a month before parliamentary elections scheduled for December 15. The Arab League chief, Mr. Moussa, has downplayed expectations. He says the meeting is simply designed to pave the way for a full-fledged reconciliation conference to be held in Iraq in a few months.

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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs