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The Arab League Summit: Three Things to Know

Speaker: Ned Parker, Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
March 26, 2012

This week's Arab League Summit in Baghdad presents three important issues, says CFR's Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow Ned Parker:

  • How the Arab League can stay vital and relevant in a changing Middle East with publics clamoring for greater freedom;
  • How to deal with Syria, which exposes the Sunni-Shia divisions within the League, preventing a decisive resolution; and
  • Whether Iraq can hold a successful summit despite its volatile political and security situation.

Parker says Sunni-Shia divisions and regional politics make it unlikely that this week's summit will result in any firm action to resolve the continuing conflict in Syria. He adds that these regional divisions, especially between Gulf states that are mostly Sunni, and states with Shiite populations like Iraq and Lebanon, also prevent the League from becoming a more forward-looking organization. Parker concludes that if Iraq can hold a successful summit, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "will be toasted by his people and it will be a boon for him in his own nasty political wars at home."

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