Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs Mohamed Qasem has announced that talks are currently underway for a visit to Egypt by Muqtada el-Sadr, leader of Iraq’s Sadrist bloc.
Qasem made the announcement at a meeting of the Shura Council’s Arab affairs committee on Monday, where he stressed the importance of maintaining Egypt’s diplomatic presence in Iraq despite attempts by certain parties to drive Arab diplomatic delegations from the violence-torn country. Iraqi factions preferred dealing with Egypt over other countries, Qasem noted, emphasizing the importance of maintaining dialog with Iraqi political movements.
Refaat el-Saeed, council member and chairman of the leftist Tagammu Party, for his part, took issue with the description of el-Sadr as "Arab" due to the latter’s long-term residence in Iran.
But according to Qasem, el-Sadr moved to Iran in order to escape oppression at the hands of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri el-Maliki, noting that el-Sadr had always promoted Iraq as an "integral part of the Arab world." Qasem went on to say that Iyad Allawi’s successful showing in recent Iraqi elections bode well for Arab states, pointing out that Egypt supported the rising "Arabist trend" in Iraq and the fight against sectarianism.
Council member Nagy el-Shehaby, however, criticized the return of Egypt’s diplomatic mission to Baghdad, arguing that Iraq’s post-election condition was not conducive to Arab interests. He went on to describe Iraqi statesmen as "spies" for the US and Israel.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.