Arab leadership responsible for disunity among Muslim countries: King Abdullah
29 March, 2007
RIYADH: Saudi King Abdullah, whose country is a close US ally, on Wednesday slammed the "illegitimate foreign occupation" of Iraq in an opening speech to the annual Arab summit in Riyadh.
He said that the foreign forces may not be allowed to decide the future of Middle East, adding that Arab leadership is responsible for the disunity among the Arab world and Arab leaders are condemnable, as they could not get over their mutual differences.
"In beloved Iraq, blood is being shed among brothers in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and ugly sectarianism threatens civil war," Abdullah said.
He also said that Arab nations, which are planning to revive a five-year-old Middle East peace plan at the summit, would not allow any foreign force to decide the future of the region.
In the past, Saudi leaders including Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal have often criticised US policy in Iraq but have never described its presence there as "illegitimate."
If Arab leaders recover trust in each other and regain their credibility, "the winds of hope will blow on the nation, and then, we will not allow forces from outside the region to determine the future of the region, and only the flag of Arabism will be raised on Arab soil," Abdullah said.
Arab foreign ministers meeting ahead of the summit agreed on Monday to call for an amendment of Iraq`s 2005 constitution to give Sunni Arabs a greater share of power in the war-ravaged country and prevent its breakup.
But Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari responded by saying the government did not need a "diktat" from the Arabs on how to amend its constitution and boost national reconciliation.