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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
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 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 US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
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 Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs