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.
    Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shababi
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    April 28, 2016 4:20 PM
    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Town Receives Refugees but Lacks Resources

    A wave of refugees is pouring into the Kurdish town of Afrin in northern Syria as a result of fighting between rebel forces and Islamic State militants. VOA’s Amina Misto went to the town and reports local authorities are finding it difficult to cope with this influx of internally displaced people. Bronwyn Benito narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Build Human Tissue on Animal Matrix

    The question has always been, if a gecko can grow back its tail, why can't we regenerate our lost body parts? Well, maybe we can, someday. Scientists are moving towards the ability to rebuild fully functioning organs, and have made significant progress replacing muscles and other tissue.
    Video

    Video Containing Chernobyl Radiation Continues 30 Years After Explosion

    April 26 marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Hundreds were killed following the explosion and it's estimated that thousands more have died from cancers caused by the radiation. Henry Ridgwell traveled to Chernobyl and reports for VOA on the continuing efforts to decommission the site -- and on the fledgling plans for a new future in the vast exclusion zone.
    Video

    Video Frustration Builds Among Refugees Trapped at Macedonian Border

    On the Greek border with Macedonia, 12,000 refugees continue to wait. Since the route to the rest of Europe was closed last month, the makeshift camp at Idomeni has seen protests and tear gas. But while those here wait, their frustration grows — as do reports of people attempting to find new ways of continuing their journey. John Owens reports from Idomeni.
    Video

    Video Researchers: Bees Help Kenyan Farmers Fend Off Elephants

    Elephant crop-raiding continues to be a major source of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya, so one elephant researcher is helping to alleviate the problem near Tsavo East National Park with beehive fences, which use elephants’ natural aversion to bees to deter them from farms. VOA’s Jill Craig visited the area ahead of this month's Giants Club Summit, which will bring together dignitaries at Mount Kenya to find solutions to combat poaching, the No. 1 threat to elephants.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora