Regional arch-rivals meet in Baghdad

Middle East World

Sat 20 Apr 2019:

Iraqi parliament will host Saudi Arabia, Iran host regional rivals along with Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Kuwait in Baghdad as Iraq carves out role as mediator in deeply divided region.

The conference, which will be hosted by Iraqi Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi, will for the first time bring together rival states.

Al-Halbusi has in the past months visited many of the countries attending the conference.

He said on Friday that Iraq was “honored by the presence of its neighbors in Baghdad.”

Hours earlier, he had welcomed Syria’s parliament chief Hammudeh Sabbagh, who landed in the Iraqi capital on Thursday night.  

Iran’s Speaker Ali Larijani said he would not attend the summit. But Tehran would be represented by a member of the Iranian parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

Head of the parliamentary National Axis alliance in Iraq MP Mohammed al-Karbouli told Asharq Al-Awsat that hosting the conference is a strong message that “Iraq is regaining its leadership role in the Arab world and the region.”

“It also stresses the important role that the young (Iraqi) speaker is playing,” he said.

Several other lawmakers from different blocs also hailed Baghdad’s hosting of the conference.

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