. Military Space News .

Baghdad Arab summit spotlights fault lines
by Staff Writers
Baghdad (UPI) Mar 29, 2012

The Arab League summit that began Thursday in Baghdad has illuminated the political and religious divisions splitting with Arab world, while powerful eastern non-Arab neighbor Iran looks on and tries to pull Iraq's strings.

One of those fractures is between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, branded a would-be dictator by domestic rivals, who is sitting down with the new leaders of countries that have overthrown tyrants in the often-bloody Arab Spring revolutions.

The meeting of Arab leaders in the cavernous Republican Palace built by Saddam Hussein is the first such gathering since those political convulsions began in Tunisia in January 2011.

It marked the return of Iraq, once a rogue state under Saddam, to the Arab mainstream. But old rivalries, dating from Saddam's invasion two of Iraq's neighbors in a decade, die hard.

Only nine national leaders out of 20 turned up. The rest sent lower-ranking officials.

Maliki, a Shiite with old links to Iran, has been busy mending fences with former rivals like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt in a bid to reclaim Iraq's place as a leading Arab power.

But suspicions of Shiite-majority Iraq's relationship with Shiite-dominated Iran linger.

"Any expectations that the Maliki government will be able to emerge as a significant regional player are likely to be disappointed," remarked Crispin Hawes of the Eurasia Group.

"Among its neighbors, Iraq is viewed with great suspicion and some fear."

A surge of sectarian violence that followed the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in December has heightened tensions between the country's sectarian rivals -- a religious divide that's widening across the region because of Iran's ambitions to become the paramount power.

The summit's agenda will focus heavily on the bloodshed in Iraq's western neighbor Syria, where President Bashar Assad is fighting for survival against an uprising that seeks to topple his brutal regime.

Needless to say, Assad's not attending the long-delayed Baghdad parley -- Syria's membership has been suspended - even though the Syrian violence carries the seeds of a wider conflict.

Most of the league's 21 other members, avidly led by Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf monarchies, want Assad to step down and break up the regime dominated by the minority Alawites, an offshoot of the breakaway Shiite sect.

That would allow these states, overwhelmingly Sunni-dominated, to restore rule by Syria's Sunni majority, and thus block an expansionist drive by Iran, Assad's only real ally, westward into the heart of the Arab world via Lebanon to confront Israel.

But the league, established in March 1945 and for decades little more than an ineffectual talking shop, has been unable to halt the Syrian carnage in which some 9,000 people have been killed.

It's difficult to see what it can do that will put some muscle in its diplomacy and prevent an all-out civil war that would eventually drag other Arab states, particularly Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, into a regional conflict.

The league is deeply divided over what to do in Syria. It could sanction international military action, as it did in 2011 when it effectively authorized NATO, via the United Nations, to bring down Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Gadhafi was widely seen as a brutal dictator best gotten rid of. And few would mourn Assad, who heads the Arab world's only, and widely scorned, republican dynasty after succeeding his strongman father, the late Hafez Assad, in 2000.

But Gadhafi's end hasn't brought peace to Libya, while Yemen and Egypt could well explode again.

Reprising foreign military intervention in Syria, whose armed forces are equipped with more powerful weapons systems than Gadhafi's were, would be infinitely more dangerous than it was with Libya.

Intervention would likely escalate sectarian fighting that would, at the very least, ignite Sunni-Shiite bloodletting in Lebanon and Iraq.

"The perception is now growing that Assad's regime has survived the tempest and may be around for some time," observed British commentator Simon Tidsall.

"Given that unlovely prospect, the summit is not expected to call for military intervention or overt support for the armed opposition," although Saudi Arabia, Libya and Qatar reportedly are providing fighters and weapons for Assad's opponents.

Meantime, other threats, the seemingly intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute and Iran's nuclear ambitions, aren't likely to be meaningfully addressed.

Related Links

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

Main points of summit resolution, Baghdad Declaration
Baghdad (AFP) March 29, 2012 - Arab leaders urged a peaceful end to the bloodshed in Syria through "serious national dialogue," at a landmark summit in the Iraqi capital on Thursday.

Here are the main points of the resolution on Syria passed at the summit and of the Baghdad Declaration, both of which supported UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.


Arab leaders approved a resolution calling on the "Syrian government and all opposition factions to deal positively with the envoy (Annan) by starting serious national dialogue."

It also called on the Syrian opposition "to unify its ranks and prepare ... to enter into serious dialogue" with the regime, while saying that "the Syrian government should immediately stop all actions of violence and killing."

It said "the massacre committed by the Syrian military and security forces against civilians in Baba Amr ... can be considered crimes (against) humanity," referring to a district of the flashpoint city of Homs in central Syria.


The declaration issued after the summit said the Arab leaders denounced "the violence, murder and bloodshed, and are in favour of a political solution via national dialogue."

They called for talks between the Syrian government and opposition based on Annan's six-point peace plan, which they said should be implemented fully and immediately.


. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Thirty years on, Falklands conflict still festers
London (AFP) March 29, 2012
Thirty years ago a remote South Atlantic island chain was thrust into the global glare as Britain and Argentina went to war over the Falklands, triggering a bitter conflict which rankles to this day. Three decades later, the windswept archipelago remains at the centre of an ugly dispute pitting London and Buenos Aires, as political tensions flare again despite a new generation of leaders. ... read more

SM-3 IIA Team Completes TDACS Preliminary Design Review

'Israel needs double Iron Dome defenses'

Obama hits back in Russia 'hot mike' row

Pentagon backs expanding Israel's anti-rocket defenses

Lockheed Martin Receives THAAD Follow-On Development Contract

Tucson site is largest Raytheon facility to receive a superior rating

Lockheed Martin Upgrades Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System for Naval Air Systems Command

Raytheon Wins $77.9 Million US Army Missile Subsystem Support Contract

US could fly spy drones from Australian territory

NASA Flight Tests New ADS-B Device on Ikhana UAS

NRL Tests Robotic Fueling of Unmanned Surface Vessels

Russia to build mini drone

Raytheon to Continue Supporting Coalition Forces' Information-Sharing Computer Network

Northrop Grumman Wins Contract for USAF Command and Control Modernization Program

TacSat-4 Enables Polar Region SatCom Experiment

'See Me' satellites may help ground forces

Australia eyes more Bushmaster vehicles

Northrop Grumman to Develop New Atom-Based Magnetic Sensor in Enhanced, Compact Package for the U.S. Navy

Boeing, Elbit Systems to Collaborate on Simulation for Super Hornet

Chile bolsters defense with Boeing program

Europe looks into Goodrich-UTC merger

Italian giant Finmeccanica posts 2.3 bn euro loss for 2011

Brazil's Rousseff to weigh French jet buy in India

Delhi boosts military spending 17 percent

Commentary: Second holocaust?

Graft main threat to Communist Party: China's Wen

Obama to meet Hu after blunt words on North Korea

Lavrov: Putin, Obama to meet in May

Diatom biosensor could shine light on future nanomaterials

'Buckliball' opens new avenue in design of foldable engineering structures

A shiny new tool for imaging biomolecules

Simple, cheap way to mass-produce graphene nanosheets

Memory Foam Mattress Review

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement