Arab draft urges end bloodshed in

Arab draft urges end bloodshed in

A draft resolution on Syria to be submitted to the Arab summit in Baghdad this week urges “serious national dialogue” and calls on Syria to end violence, according to copy obtained by Agence France-Presse yesterday.

 The summit will be the first such meeting held in Iraq in over 20 years. The draft resolution urges the “Syrian government and all opposition factions to deal positively with the (UN-Arab League) envoy (Kofi Annan) by starting serious national dialogue.” It also calls on the Syrian opposition “to unify its ranks and prepare ... to enter into serious dialogue (with the regime) to achieve the democratic life which is demanded by the Syrian people.” And “the Syrian government should immediately stop all actions of violence and killing, protect Syrian civilians and guarantee the freedom of peaceful demonstrations for achieving demands of the Syrian people,” the text says.

 Arab economy, trade and finance ministers held talks yesterday on ramping up tourism to revitalize the region’s protest-hit economies, tackling water security and organizing regional responses to natural disasters.

Arab foreign ministers are to meet today, the eve of the summit, with Syria at the heart of the agenda.
 “The Syrian subject will have a significant place in discussions” between foreign ministers, Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi told reporters yesterday. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has said he expects a resolution to address Syria but added he did not think Arab leaders would call on Assad to step down.

Arab summit in Baghdad will be very different from the one that met two years ago, with many long-time autocrats having been swept away by the political tsunami that has struck across the region and a Sunni and Shiite rift expected to be reflected in the participant countries.

All meetings will be led for the first time by a Kurd, the Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

Sunni-Shiite rift to be reflected in meeting

Some Sunni Arab states wanted all charges against Iraq’s exiled Sunni leader, Tariq al-Hashemi, to be dropped in order for them to participate in the summit, according to sources, daily Radikal reported on March 26.

On December 2011, the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government issued an arrest warrant against al-Hashemi, charging that he had run death squads targeting Shiite officials. Al-Hashemi, a prominent politician from Iraq’s Sunni community, remains holed up in the Kurdistan Regional Government region in the north of the country, out of the reach of state security forces. Under these circumstances, the participation of eight of the 22 bloc members would be seen as a success for Baghdad. Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have driven Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak from power, Libyan strongman Muammar Gadhafi was killed.