The Kurds and Baghdad’s Summits

February 28, 2012

The explosions last week in Baghdad and other areas of Iraq were yet another reminder that the government does not have the upper hand in terms of security and its enemies can still call the shots. This comes at a time when the government and political parties are talking about holding two summits, an Iraqi one and an Arab one.
Both summits are full of uncertainties and problems and both have agendas involved that extend beyond Iraq’s borders. In both cases, the Kurds will have to be extremely careful about how they conduct themselves.
Many say the Iraqi summit is a prerequisite for the Arab one. But at the moment, it is not clear who, how, when or where the meeting is going to be held. The name of the meeting is also a point of contention. The Sunnis want to call it a “national conference” and the Shia want to call it a “national meeting.” The agenda of the meeting is also unclear.
Externally, the problems between the Shia and the Sunnis of Iraq have almost always been detrimental to the Kurds or conducted at their expense.
This time too. The Hashimi crisis implicated the Kurdistan Region as he fled to the region. A meeting supposed to take place is also being facilitated by President Talabani, who has demonstrated that his role in Iraqi politics is still pivotal, and he is now in the spotlight for the success or failure of the Iraqi meeting. Though the ball is still in the court of the political blocs.
President Talabani could also be in the spotlight at the Arab summit. As president of the republic, he has the legal right to head the summit if it takes place in Baghdad, and would be at the center of media attention.
The summit would also manifest Iraq’s dilemma. On one hand, it is stuck between a number of conflicting and competing neighbors, each of which wants something different from each meeting.
On the other hand, it takes a different stance from the rest of the Arab world on a number of issues that are related to its neighbors like Syria, Iran and even Turkey.
In practice, neither of the two meetings will change anything on the ground. The Iraqi meeting, if held, won’t change the relationship between’s Iraq’s Shia and Sunni leadership and population.
The Arab summit could create more problems for Iraq with its neighbors.
The only strength of the summit would be symbolic: an Arab summit and a Kurdish head. It would be held in the absence of some of the most brutal Arab dictators. The summit would be seen as the summit of the people with more elected representatives. The Kurds could take the opportunity and get a motion out of the summit that supports the Kurdish people in the Middle East.

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