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Arab Foreign Ministers Approve Draft Resolution to Restore Diplomatic Relations with Iraq  - 2004-09-15

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo have approved a controversial draft resolution that calls on Arab states to restore full diplomatic relations with Iraq's under its current interim government. But analysts in the region say public opinion is opposed to such a resolution because it is seen as giving greater legitimacy to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

The draft resolution says Arab states should resume full diplomatic relations with Iraq in order to help "bolster the political efforts" being exerted by the U.S.-backed interim Iraqi government.

Among other things, the resolution urges Arab governments to provide training for Iraqi government workers, including the police and security forces.

According to the head of the al Quds Center for Political Studies in Jordan, Uraib el-Rantawi, the draft resolution could help the Iraqi interim government, led by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, bring stability and peace to Iraq.

"I think this is a banner of legitimacy provided to the Allawi government," said Uraib el-Rantawi. "It has a very important political and moral meaning for the Iraqi government since it faced serious challenges in the internal and regional situation to restore back the sovereignty, the security, the stability of this country. Before this meeting, you know, many Arab countries do not deal officially with the Iraqi government. Some of the Arab parties look to the government as part of the American occupation to Iraq. But, with the resolution made by the Arab League, I think this will empower the Iraqi government to implement their goals."

Dealing with the unelected interim Iraqi government has been a divisive issue throughout the Arab world. Some Arab states, including Syria, have said the interim government is nothing more than a "puppet," despite the fact the government was formed with the help of the United Nations.

The director of the Arab Research Center in Cairo, Helmy Shaarawi, says Arab public opinion is opposed to restoring diplomatic relations with Iraq's interim government because, he says, most people in the region want foreign forces out of Iraq first.

"The issue is the full independence," he said. "And, the foreign occupation is refused in Iraq, in Palestine, in Sudan, everywhere. I think the whole world is with this point of view because we have to push for the full independence, for liberation of Iraq."

Mr. Shaarawi says many Arabs believe the violence in Iraq would end if coalition troops were to leave.

The Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo issued a statement condemning all forms of terrorism in Iraq against police, security personnel, civilians, journalists, humanitarian and religious groups.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said no form of terrorism should tolerated anywhere in the world, and he called on Arab states to help bring peace and stability to Iraq.