Baghdad summit and future of regional cooperation in views of two analysts

August 30, 2021 - 22:16

TEHRAN - Two experts on regional affairs termed the Baghdad Regional Summit a venue to pave the ground for regional cooperation and Iraq's return to the scene in the equations of the region, IRNA reported on Sunday.

Reza Sadr al-Hosseini, an expert on West Asia affairs, has stressed that there is a very important and fundamental point about the Baghdad meeting, and that is the return of Iraq as a reliable and effective player in the West Asian region, especially in the Arab world.

"The issue of Iraq's return as an Arab actor in the region, was one of the points mentioned by the Islamic Republic in recent years, and Tehran was interested in Iraq being able to take a special position as soon as possible," Sadr al-Hosseini said in a televised interview.

"The main purpose of the summit was not to resolve disputes, but to create grounds for regional cooperation."

Sadr al-Hosseini added, "The summit began with the invitation of the officials of the Islamic Republic, and Iran announced a special cooperation in this regard, and in fact the first visit of the foreign minister of the new administration to this country was done for this purpose." 

On the absence of Syria as a neighboring and regional country while French President Emmanuel Macron invited to the summit, the expert said: "The important point was that Bashar al-Assad did not attend the meeting because he rightly expected the Arab community to give him the same seat he had in the past, and to hold the first meeting among the Arab states and then he will be present at the meeting."

The analyst stated, "Of course, on the behalf of the government of Iraq, Faleh al-Fayaz went to Syria where he formally invited the Syrian president".

He said: "But France, as a member of the United Nations Security Council, came to this meeting aiming at making arrangements for economic issues and putting emphasis on the necessity of restoring peace and stability in the region."

"Of course, France's unwarranted interference in some countries in the region and the Arab world in this regard has not been forgotten," the senior expert highlighted. 

Contrary to remarks by Sadr al-Hosseini, Iraq did not invite President Assad to the conference. Reportedly, Al-Hashd Al-Sha'bi (Popular Mobilization Force) favored inviting the Syrian leader.  

Purpose of Baghdad Summit 

Sabah Zanganeh, another senior expert on regional issues, said that the main purpose of the Baghdad summit was not to resolve disputes, but rather to make grounds for regional cooperation.

In an interview with IRNA on Sunday, Sabah Zanganeh went on to say that that the level of delegations participating in the summit was higher than average because the number of countries, expected to participate, sent high-level representatives to the meeting.

He highlighted, "The presidents of Egypt and France, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, the Emir of Qatar and the King of Jordan attended the summit as the heads of the state, and Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia also participated at the level of foreign ministers, which is an acceptable level for a regional summit."

"It seems that the main purpose of the summit was not to resolve disputes, but rather to create the grounds for regional cooperation."

Zanganeh elsewhere noted that "the Islamic Republic of Iran was also invited to the summit because of its proximity to Iraq and its great role in the stability of Iraq, because most of the invited countries were Arab states, and all of these countries, except the Islamic Republic, have good ties with the United States." 

The former representative of Iran in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation stated, "The President of France Emmanuel Macron represented the Western countries in the summit", noting that politically, all the countries present in the summit has proximity with the U.S. and only Iran has no friendship with the U.S.

Referring to the change of administration in Iran and the appointment of Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as the foreign minister, Zanganeh said, "All countries will look to the Islamic Republic of Iran to guess the foreign policy of the new administration and based on that, adjust their foreign policy vis-à-vis Iran."

The former diplomat considered regional conferences such as the Baghdad summit as a good opportunity for dialogue between Iran and the countries of the region.

"The Iranian foreign minister had good meetings with senior officials of the region, including Emirati, Kuwaiti and Iraqi officials, and indicated that the Islamic Republic's principled policy of good neighborliness in the current administration would also be pursued."

Elsewhere, Zanganeh referred to the absence of Syria at the summit, saying that Iraq may have refused to invite Syria to the meeting due to U.S. or Turkish pressure as Baghdad and Damascus face common threats and the presence of terrorist groups in their border areas.

The expert concluded, "These common concerns could be the basis for joint action between the two countries, and the Islamic Republic could help address these concerns, and the fact that Syria was not invited to the summit is a matter of regret."

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