Skip to comments.Baghdad Arab summit spotlights fault lines
Posted on 04/01/2012 5:51:05 PM PDT by U-238
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
(Excerpt) Read more at spacewar.com ...