Baghdad summits have always been exciting whether in terms of their timing or their outcome. The first Arab summit to be held in Baghdad was back in 1978 and simply entitled “Camp David.” The summit witnessed a great deal of tension among member states over the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel and which led to the assassination of late president Anwar al-Sadat and the coming to power of his deputy Hosni Mubarak who ruled for the coming 30 years.
The second Baghdad summit was in 1990 following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and which was, for a variety of reasons, supported by several Arab regimes and factions, amongst them the Muslim Brotherhood. The summit witnessed an unprecedented division between Arab states and the invasion around which it revolved signaled the beginning of the end of Hussein’s era, which lasted for the more than three decades.
It is quite interesting that the third Baghdad summit would be held in 2012 with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist factions in Egypt and Tunisia and anticipation of their imminent accession to power in other Arab countries.
There is a general sentiment against holding an Arab summit in Baghdad and participating states have not managed to reach an agreement in this regard.
Reservations about the summit transcend the deteriorating security and the escalation of violence since the withdrawal of American troops and extend to the confused political situation inside Iraq, the latest statements by Massoud Barzani, the independence of Kurdistan, the Hashemi issue, increasing objections to the nascent dictatorship in Iraq, and lack of political and security autonomy in the country. These are all serious problems.
On top of that is the current question about the use of holding an Arab summit at a time when Arab countries are going through radical changes and when leaked reports had it that the Syrian issue will be overlooked at the meeting since there is nothing more to add with the international community exerting minimal effort to support the Syrian people.
What can a summit accomplish at a time when revolutions are erupting, political participation is increasing, and the media is given more freedom? At a time when the demands of the Arab street know no limit and when the youth is leading the way towards change and political dynamism?
That is why the third Baghdad summit has no exciting title to offer. In fact, there is nothing exciting this summit can offer except that it will be held in Baghdad and specifically in the Green Zone.
The writer is Head of Media at Al Arabiya. This article was first published in al-Jazirah on March 25, 2012 and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid