Baghdad has hosted a summit in which the majority of participants had different orientations and goals, and even historical heritages. Despite these differences, this event could be described as the summit of calming crises.
The Egyptian representation at the Baghdad summit came at the highest level, the President himself. This affirmed the “Egyptian-Iraqi-Jordanian” alliance, seen as the most promising regional coalition capable of serving their people.
Moreover, it reinforced the Egyptian political leadership’s affirmation of a set of constants, namely Egypt’s support to its sisterly countries in the fight against terrorism, an issue that always threatened our region. The high-level representation also showed that Egypt was proud of being involved in partnerships and alliances with all the GCC states, and considered the security of the Gulf region a top priority for Egypt’s and Arab’s national security.
However, Iraqis were disappointed in this summit, as they expected it would help them resolve the country’s crises, but the discussions between the Arab leaders and officials turned to regional issues. Thus, Iraq came out empty-handed from the summit, which Iraqi President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi did their best to make it a success.
It was remarkable that the summit witnessed high-level meetings between President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and between the latter and the Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Iranian counterpart, Hussein Amir Abdollahian, exchanged messages of assurances.
The summit may serve Al-Kazemi’s agenda to remain at the head of the government, especially with the upcoming elections in which the Sadrist Movement will run.
The summit from the beginning was indeed aimed at giving a regional cover to the Iranian-Saudi rapprochement, which witnessed its first meetings in the Iraqi capital, but the real goal was to reach positive results to solve the outstanding problems that exist between Arab parties.
Perhaps the most prominent thing that happened during the summit was the protocol mistake made by the head of the Iranian delegation, as he stood in the first row with presidents while taking the collective photo. He also mentioned that his country’s economic cooperation with Baghdad amounted to $300bn! Such mistakes could not be ignored in such an atmosphere.
Meanwhile, the summit comes eight months before the French presidential elections, and President Manuel Macron has not yet announced his candidacy. The French President probably wanted, through his two-day visit to Baghdad, to consolidate his position on the international map.
Bilateral meetings between the participating officials were active on the sidelines of the summit, the most prominent of which was between the Emir of Qatar and the UAE Vice President Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid who described the former as “a brother and friend, and the Qatari people are relatives and brothers, and the Gulf states share the same fate.” Nevertheless, such statements could not be taken into account unless they were translated on the ground into actions by Doha. In any case, the coming days will reveal more about the results of that summit, and whether it will really be the summit of calming regional crises, or otherwise.
Dr. Hatem Sadek, Professor at Helwan University