ISSN 2330-717X

Iraq’s Possible Exit From Arab League – OpEd


By Hassan Hanizadeh


The Arab League summit that was scheduled to be held on March 29 in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad was cancelled due to the exertion of influence by Saudi Arabia and some Persian Gulf littoral states.

The Arab League decided on its 2009 summit in Cairo to hold its next summit in Baghdad.

The Iraqi government spent more than USD 400 million to prepare for this important Arab summit.

After the recent developments in the region, specifically the events in Bahrain and east of Saudi Arabia, and stances taken by some statesmen and clerics in support of the people of Bahrain, the Persian Gulf states put into force their decision to cancel the Arab League summit in Baghdad.

Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states claim that Iraq cannot host the Arab states summit due to the country’s insecurity.


This is while Iraqi leaders have for many times stressed that Iraq is safer than all regional Arab states and is able to hold the Arab League summit.

But the reality is that the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) member states have a totally sectarian ad tribal view on Iraq’s new structure.

During the rule of the former Baath regime in Iraq, the country hosted the Arab League summit twice, once in 1979 and once in 1990; but after former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled, the viewpoint of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) member states underwent a change.

The [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC) member states believe that Iraq is out of the circle of Arab countries since Iraq’s president is Kurdish-speaking and the country’s prime minister is a Shia.

This view is rooted in the Arab’s “epoch of ignorance,” (the Jahiliyah era) and still languishes in the minds of some Arab leaders especially those of the Persian Gulf littoral states.

Having caused extensive nuisance for its neighbors under Saddam, Iraq was always favored by the leaders of the Persian Gulf littoral states as it voiced sectarian and Pan-Arab slogans.

Despite Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the leaders of the Persian Gulf littoral states would prefer Saddam to remain in power.

When former US President George Bush sought to launch airstrikes on Iraq during attempts to free Kuwait from Iraqi military occupation, the then Saudi King, Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, strongly opposed the decision.

Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states believed that a weakened and contained Saddam is better than allowing the power balance in the region to tilt in favor of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Thus, despite having caused great damage to Kuwait and other Persian Gulf states, Saddam ruled Iraq from 1991 to 2003 with the support of Saudi Arabia.

After the downfall of Saddam’s regime in March 2003, Saudi Arabia and some Persian Gulf states tried to prevent the formation of a democratic and popular establishment in Iraq by sending Salafi terrorists to the Arab country.

Saudi Arabia’s aim was for the Shia majority and the Kurds in Iraq not to rise to power, and for the Arab country to continue to be ruled by an Arab sectarian-minded minority as before.

In early 2010, when parliamentary elections were held in Iraq, Saudi Arabia spent more than USD 1 billion to help a sectarian-minded Iraqi faction win.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia’s powerful media organized a large-scale campaign in favor of that faction to prevent the Shia and Kurdish majority from winning the elections.

Lebanon experienced the same situation; Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf littoral states overtly backed the anti-resistance March 14 alliance led by Saad Hariri both financially and politically in its campaigns.

However, despite spending huge financial and campaigning expenditures, Saudi Arabia did not gain much success in exerting influence in Iraq and Lebanon and faced failure.

Since the time when Iraq formed its government based on the 2010 parliamentary election results, the Persian Gulf littoral states have demonstrated their overt opposition to the election of Jalal Talabani as president, Nouri Al-Maliki as prime minister, and Hoshyar Zebari as foreign minister.

Reports by Arab media show the six Persian Gulf states are determined to utilize any means to isolate Iraq, as long as the government and the presidency in Iraq are run by Shia and Kurds.

Therefore, in the latest summit of the Arab League member states, the Persian Gulf littoral states stressed on the cancellation of the next Arab League summit that was scheduled to be held in Baghdad.

The six countries threatened that if the summit is held in Baghdad, they would delay the payment of their membership fees in the Arab League.

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates pay 80 percent of the total annual budget of the Arab League which surpasses USD 1 billion. So, if they cut their payments to the Arab League, the regional institution will break apart.

The Arab League was formed in March 22, 1945, with the participation of Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, and its headquarters are currently in Cairo.

It seems that Iraq should halt its membership in the Arab League and join a regional non-Arab organization, to cope with the conspiracy by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states, and to protest the cancellation of the Arab League summit.

Press TV

Press TV is a 24-hour English language global news network owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Its headquarters are located in Tehran, Iran. Press TV carries news analysis, documentary talk shows and sports news worldwide with special focus on West Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

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