Gulf states welcome power transfer in Iraq
DUBAI: Gulf Arab monarchies, some of which held strong reservations about the US-led invasion of Iraq last year, have welcomed the power transfer to Iraqis, hoping for a hasty restoration of security to their troubled northern neighbour.
The transfer of power in Iraq is “a step on the right path to building a unified Iraq,” the Gulf Cooperation Council said in a statement published on Tuesday at its Riyadh headquarters.
The GCC also expressed “confidence (in the capacity) of the interim government and the Iraqi people to overcome the difficult situation Iraq is experiencing, by strengthening national unity.”
The statement reflected the position of five of the six GCC members that had individually hailed the power handover 14 months after the US-led war to oust Saddam Hussein. The exception was Oman which has not yet officially reacted.
The GCC groups together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The reticence of some of the Gulf states, notably Saudi Arabia, towards the launch of the war in March 2003, had further strained relations with Washington, already impacted by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Saudi Arabia, from where 15 of the 19 hijackers in the suicide attacks came from, suffered in particular by Washington redeploying its major air operations in the Middle East to Qatar before the war was launched.
The Saudi press, which reflects the official point of view, on Tuesday cautiously welcomed the transfer of power to Iraqis. The Al-Riyadh daily questioned how far “real authority is in the hands of the Americans” while the Iraqi state and its authorities are merely “a screen”.
The Saudi cabinet, in its weekly meeting Monday chaired by King Fahd, expressed “satisfaction with the transfer of sovereignty in Iraq” and called for “an essential role for the United Nations” in the reconstruction process.
Kuwait, invaded by Saddam’s army in 1990 and occupied for seven months, was among the first to hail the handover on Monday.
Qatar, a main US ally in the Gulf, said the transfer of power “is important and necessary for Iraq to recover its sovereignty and independence, and realise security and stability for the Iraqi people.” Cited by the state news agency QNA, a foreign ministry official called on the international community to “provide its support for Iraq to facilitate the transfer towards democratic power, the holding of elections on the scheduled date and the drafting of a permanent constitution.” afp
Kuwait will not send troops to Iraq
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait will not send troops to neighbouring war-torn Iraq as part of a requested multinational force in order to avoid any “misconceptions”, the prime minister said on Tuesday. “We have not been asked (to send troops). We do not want to send our army to Iraq, not because we hate that country, but because we do not want any friction or misconceptions about the presence of Kuwaiti troops,” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah told reporters. The prime minister, whose country on Tuesday announced the resumption of diplomatic ties with Baghdad after a 14-year hiatus, reiterated the emirate was ready to help Iraq restore stability and security through other means. Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said on Sunday that the multinational force in Iraq should be expanded to include other countries such as Morocco, Bahrain and Oman, but he acknowledged risks were involved in such a commitment. The former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 and occupied it until ousted by a US-led multinational force the following year. afp