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The Iraqi Authors' Union chairman says the exclusion of Iraqi writers from the Arab Writers Union is politically motivated, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

The Damascus-based Arab Writers Union suspended Iraqi membership following the country's 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Literary critic Fadhil Thamir told Radio Free Iraq that the reason given for the restriction is Iraq's occupation, which they say delegitimizes its institutions. Iraqi writers reported their participation in the 2004 provincial elections to the Arab union but without effect, he says.

Instead, the union recently elected a group of pro-Saddam Hussein writers outside Iraq as the country's representatives.

Thamir says that January's provincial elections are unlikely to change the Arab union's position "because their attitudes are politically motivated against the new Iraq and its writers."

-- Abdelilah Nuaimi

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