DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Iraq criticized fellow Arabs for not expressing support for its U.S.-backed government at an Arab summit that concluded in the Syrian capital on Sunday.
The final declaration of the summit of 22 Arab states urged national reconciliation in Iraq and an end to fighting between Shi‘ite militiamen and U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in Iraq’s southern city in Basra.
But the declaration did not condemn insurgent attacks, which Iraq regards as terrorism, or mention the elected government in Baghdad.
Iraq registered its reservations at the end of the summit over articles in the declaration pertaining to Iraq.
Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told Reuters that Iraq considered the paragraph concerning Iraq “not positive” and asked the Arab league to rephrase it.
“We want the declaration to support the authority of the Iraqi state, the rule of law and our efforts to achieve security, stability and defeat terrorism,” Zebari said.
“We are looking for the Arab League to affirm positions it had already taken on supporting the Iraqi government, and not to take a neutral position in the declaration,” Zebari said.
Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul-Mehdi led his country’s delegation at the summit after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki became embroiled in a military campaign against fighters loyal to Shi‘ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in the oil city of Basra.
Scores of Iraqis have died in the fighting, which broke out in Basra six days ago and spread to other parts of the country, including the capital Baghdad.
U.S. forces are being drawn deeper into the crackdown, launched on Tuesday.
Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; editing by Sami Aboudi