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Arab League Snubs US Over Sending Troops To Iraq
Aug 06, 2003
Arab foreign ministers ruled out a United States request to send troops to Iraq when they met on Tuesday to discuss the Iraqi situation and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Arab League officials said.
After a preliminary meeting late on Monday, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said the question of sending Arab troops to Iraq would not feature on the agenda of Tuesday's meeting, dashing hopes in Washington.
"Certain countries wanted to discuss the matter, but as there was no unanimous decision, it was struck off," an Arab official told the Agence France Presse (AFP) on condition of anonymity. "It is not an acceptable topic for discussion while Iraq is under foreign occupation," he said.
"Arab nations refuse on principle to play policeman to protect the Americans or quash Iraqi resistance," wrote editorialist Fahmi Howeidi in the Egyptian government newspaper, Al-Ahram.
"From the American point of view, it would be ideal to have Arab troops in Iraq ... It imply Arab recognition of the occupation to the extent of helping secure its continuation," he added.
Arab League spokesman Hisham Yussef told AFP on Monday that Iraq's security was the responsibility of the US-British forces. "The United States has asked 70 countries to send forces to restore security. Thirty countries have accepted, the meeting will discuss the legal and political implications of their decision," he said.
Tuesday's closed-doors meeting of the so-called Arab League follow-up committee was to focus on the situations in Iraq and the Middle East, following preparatory meetings on both. Gen Mussa told reporters the League had drawn up a draft resolution to press the importance of a united Iraqi political front as the best means to guarantee the country's return to national sovereignty.
The draft also calls on the United Nations to take full responsibility for reconstruction efforts in Iraq, and on the US to establish a framework to implement the peace roadmap, which paves the way to the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.
The members of the League's follow-up committee are: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority. The 22-member League was brought to its knees over divisions on the US-led war on Iraq