Representatives of over 80 nations attended yesterday’s international conference on Iraq in Brussels. Here are three stories coming out of the gathering, co-hosted by the U.S. and the European Union, that I found interesting or significant.
Iraq Begs the World for A Marshall Plan
The staid conference room in Brussels could not have seemed further from the bloodstained streets of Baghdad. There, Iraqi leaders pleaded with the world to focus on the human costs of the conflict engulfing their homeland, and to do more to bring peace
“The children of Iraq are just like yours â€“ they donâ€™t want to lose their fathers” Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said in opening remarks to an international conference that concluded with calls for not just cash, but a Marshall Plan-style commitment to help those most vulnerable among Iraqâ€™s citizens.
The UN, the European Union, the US and more than 80 other nations pledged their support â€“ while saying Iraq could also do more to help itself. No new money was offered at a meeting that was never intended as a donors’ conference, but the gathering was applauded as proof that sharp differences over the US-led invasion of Iraq could be put aside to help Iraqis.
High price to pay if Iraq democracy fails: Fischer
Speaking at a conference on Iraq being co-hosted in Brussels by the U.S. and the European Union, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned there would be a “high price to pay” if the democratisation process in Iraq fails.
The conference is focusing on international support for the Iraqi transitional government on political reform, economic reconstruction and strengthening security through the rule of law. No new aid pledges or troop contributions are expected.
Whether countries were for or against the U.S.- led Iraq war, the focus now was on stabilising the country, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told reporters. “If the democratisation process fails, there will be a high price to pay…we cannot allow that to happen,” Fischer underlined.
The meeting emphasised that “the international community, having been deeply divided over Iraq, has now come together actively,” said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.
Syria to discuss cross-border infiltration claims
Syria will ask the Baghdad government to provide evidence of would-be insurgents infiltrating across the Syrian-Iraqi border, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said Thursday.
Speaking to reporters, al-Sharaa indicated his government’s concern about charges that it is allowing infiltration into Iraq – accusations that were repeated by US and Iraqi envoys at the international conference on Iraq in Brussels on Wednesday.
“The delegation will ask for documents and evidence about the accusations (of infiltration), because we want to know the source and truth,” al-Sharaa said.
“Any border in the world, including the United States’ borders, is prone to infiltration,” Sharaa added.
Unfortunately, there is much truth in that last statement, far too much when considering the U.S. borders. Still, one would be quite foolish to state that Syria is doing all it can to assist the establishment of a stable, democratic Iraq, something that Syria does not want as a neighbor.
Another donors conference is planned in mid-July in Amman, Jordan. The mind boggles at the security precautions that will have to be in place and how tempting such a target will have to be to the radical Islamists.