News

Arab Summit Marks Milestones for Syria, Iraq, Arab League

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari (R) speaks during a joint Arab Summit conference with the Arab League's Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ahmad bin Hilly, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 28, 2012.
Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari (R) speaks during a joint Arab Summit conference with the Arab League's Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ahmad bin Hilly, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 28, 2012.
Al Pessin

Arab League leaders are meeting in Baghdad this week, with efforts to end the violence in Syria high on their agenda. The summit marks important milestones in the Syria crisis, Iraq’s emergence from seven years of war, and a remarkable evolution in the Arab League itself.

As Arab leaders were gathering, amateur video continued to come out of Syria showing fresh government shelling of opposition strongholds. Stopping the violence in Syria is a key agenda item for the summit.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has agreed to the U.N.-Arab League envoy's peace plan, which calls for an immediate ceasefire.

With the government crackdown on the Syrian opposition continuing, however, Western officials and experts suspect a delaying tactic rather than a sincere change of policy. And they don’t expect the Arab League meeting to make much difference. Syria will not attend the summit since it has been expelled from the League, and says it will reject any new initiatives the meeting produces.

Possible fallout of leadership change

Speaking via Skype, Anthony Skinner, director of Middle East analysis at the Maplecroft risk assessment firm, said the change of League chairmanship from Qatar to Iraq could possibly be a setback for efforts to force Assad to back down.

“Qatar was previously chairing the Arab League. It was in a position of authority. But now, of course, this leadership role has transferred to Iraq. And from the perspective of Bashar al-Assad this is arguably a good thing. Al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq, has taken a much softer approach,” said Skinner.

Still, the Arab League's effort to play a major role in the Syria conflict reflects its new position in the wake of the Arab revolutions, and the arrival of its new secretary general Nabil al-Araby.  

New energy pervades Arab League

At London’s Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, director Alireza Nourizadeh said the League has been revitalized by the past year’s events.

“Some of these Arab governments, by themselves, they don’t enjoy such respect and support in the international community. But the Arab League is not just talking for the governments. They are representing 'the people,' as they call it now. And it will be dealt with more seriously," said Nourizadeh.

Iraqi leaders also are hoping the world will see their country differently after this summit, especially Sunni leaders in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere - some of whom are boycotting the summit because of suspicions about largely Shiite Iraq’s ties to Iran.

“They look at this summit as a way of coming back to the Arab World. So it is an important factor in the future of Iraq,” said Nourizadeh.

The Arab League summit has many dimensions - including Iraq’s re-emergence as a regional player, the League's new activism and its efforts to end the violence in Syria. But analysts say significant movement on any of those fronts will be difficult to achieve.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Greg
March 28, 2012 9:38 PM
Been hearing a lot about a possible Dinar revalue..... any facts on this subject would be welcome.

by: Kathleen
March 28, 2012 3:51 PM
Iraq is expected to have a Currency that is worth more than a piece of dust.
They are using American Dollars for their day to day expences, lets hope that they revalue their money and start acting like they are a super country.

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