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Iraqis Worry Egyptian Crisis May Affect Arab Summit In Baghdad

Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Musa
Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Musa
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi lawmakers say the political crisis in Egypt and unrest in other Arab countries could affect the Arab League summit scheduled for March in Baghdad, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Kurdish bloc member Mahmud Othman told RFE/RL that "considering the potentially epoch-making consequences of political turmoil in the Arab world's most-populous country and its domino effect, I would not be surprised if the summit is postponed."

Saad al-Muttalibi, a leading member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's National Alliance, said that those heads of states who decide not to attend the meeting will basically be admitting that their position at home is precarious.

He added that as far as Iraq is concerned, nearly all logistical preparations for the summit are done.

Muttalibi said the crisis in Egypt and mass demonstrations in other Arab countries demanding good governance should serve as an incentive to turn the Arab League summit into a platform for launching a credible reform program for the region.

But Othman said Arab rulers who have been in power for two or even three decades -- as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has -- were unlikely to heed any call for political reform emanating from a conference, even an Arab League summit.

Nahida al-Daini, a member of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Al-Iraqiyah bloc, said the Arab summit will probably convene in Baghdad as scheduled, but in the absence of states that have undergone regime change or are experiencing antigovernment protests.

Arab League members Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen have all had such protests, and rallies are also being planned by opposition activists in Syria for February 5.

Deputy Foreign Minister Labid Abbawi told reporters on January 30 that preparations are going according to plan and there is no compelling reason to postpone the summit.

The Arab League, which was formed in 1946, has 22 members. It is headed by Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister who said on February 1 that he will consider running for president of Egypt in the election scheduled for later this year.