Iraq hosts summit aimed at easing regional tensions

Iraq hosted a regional conference on Saturday aimed at easing tensions in the Middle East while emphasising the Arab country’s new role as a mediator.

Heads of state attending included Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates sent their heads of government, and Turkey its foreign minister.

Also attending were the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rivalry has often played out in Iraq and other countries, including Yemen and Lebanon.

There was no indication of any direct meetings between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but Iraq said talks between the two countries, which began in April, were continuing.

Organisers of the Baghdad summit said they did not expect any diplomatic breakthroughs.

“The fact that we managed to bring rival countries together on the same table and initiate dialogue between them is not only important to them and us but to the whole region,” said Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.

‘Pivotal player’

France co-organised the meeting, which discussed a potentially devastating regional water crisis, the war in Yemen, and the severe economic and political situation in Lebanon that has brought the country to the point of collapse.

Analysts said the meeting was a chance for Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to showcase his recent efforts to portray Iraq as a neutral mediator in the region’s crises and re-engage with the world after decades of conflict.

Iraq seeks to play a “unifying role” to tackle crises shaking the region, sources close to al-Kadhimi say.

“This summit marks the return of Iraq as a pivotal player in the region,” said political analyst Ihsan al-Shammari, who heads the Iraqi Political Thinking Center in Baghdad. “Having rival parties be seated at the same table is a significant step in that direction.”

Related Articles

Back to top button