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Iraqi Politicians Support Postponing Arab League Summit

Iraq has seen unrest of its own since the Tunisian and Egyptian revolts, like this "Day of Rage" demonstration in Samawa in late February.
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi politicians are coming out in favor of the recent decision to postpone the Arab League summit that was to be held in Baghdad next month, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Many cite ongoing turbulence in the region and express hope that the delay will allow for a more stable environment around the meeting, while insisting that they still want Iraq to host the summit.

The rescheduling announcement was made on April 20 by Ahmad bin Heli, the deputy chief of the 22-country Arab League.

Muhammad Sayhud, a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law parliamentary bloc, told RFI on April 21 that "Iraqis would rather see the summit postponed than host a formal, meaningless conference attended by Arab leaders who -- in some cases -- have been in power for more than four decades."

Sayhud said the postponement "is the right decision enabling the changes sweeping through the Arab world to run their course and bring new leaders with a genuine popular mandate."

Wahda al-Jumaily, a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Al-Iraqiyah bloc, told RFI that "it is only logical to put off the Arab summit under the impact of the Arab revolts that have so far resulted in the ouster of two leaders in Tunisia and Egypt and are about to topple a third in Libya."

She said "the Arab Gulf states' reaction to statements made by some Iraqi politicians on the unrest in Bahrain has sent the wrong signals, prompting calls for canceling the summit."

Al-Jumaily underlined that "their squabbles notwithstanding, Iraqi politicians speak in one voice when they insist on hosting the Arab summit in Baghdad, although at a later date."

Mahmud Othman, a leading member of Iraq's Kurdish parliamentary bloc, told RFI that "the Arab summit should be pushed back to 2012 after the remaining U.S. troops will have left Iraq, the Arab region will have hopefully stabilized, and Iraq itself will be in a better position to ensure a successful meeting."

Analyst Abbas al-Yasiri told RFI that the failure to hold the Arab summit in Baghdad is "the coup de grace for the moribund Arab League, whose summits have been the exclusive club of oppressive autocrats."

Al-Yasiri said Arab countries should seek a replacement for the Arab League that would be more responsive to the democratic aspirations of the Arabic people.