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Iraq: Religious differences more important than preventing mayhem and death

March 31, 2012

Co-operation? What’s that mean?


Sunni Muslim rulers have largely shunned an Arab League summit hosted by Shiite-led Iraq, illustrating how powerfully the sectarian split and the rivalry with Iran define Middle Eastern politics in the era of the Arab Spring.

The crisis in Syria is the epicentre of those divisions. Thursday’s one-day summit closed with a joint call on the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, to stop his bloody crackdown on an uprising seeking his ouster. But the final statement barely papered over the differences among the Arab nations over how to deal with the longest-running regional revolt….

In a snub to Iraq, only 10 heads of state from the Arab League’s 22 members attended, with the rest sending lower-level officials.

Especially notable were the absences of the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most other Persian Gulf countries, as well Morocco and Jordan – all of them headed by Sunni monarchs who deeply distrust the close ties between Baghdad’s Shiite-dominated government and their top regional rival, Iran.

Myself and my cousins against the world!
Myself and my brothers against my cousins!
Myself against my brothers!

— Bedouin Arab saying

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