Three years after a U.S.-led invasion that toppled former president Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi government is still struggling to win full support from other Arab countries.
"We want a clear message of support from the Arab leaders for Iraq," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told Xinhua before an Arab foreign ministerial meeting held in the Sudanese capital earlier Saturday morning.
Zebari was among the first few Arab officials walking into Khartoum's Friendship Hall to attend a special session dedicated to the Iraqi issue based on a proposal from Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.
Zebari, along with other foreign ministers from Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Kuwait, would discuss the Iraqi situation before the inauguration of a general meeting of the AL Ministerial Council.
"This is a critical time for Iraq," Zebari said. "We need serious and clear commitment from our Arab brothers."
That seemed to be a tough mission, given the fact that the session lasted about one hour longer than its original schedule due to "heated discussions," as an anonymous Sudanese official put it.
Following the special session was a two-day general meeting, a prelude for an Arab summit, which is slated for March 28-29 in Khartoum.
Zebari told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that the Arab foreign ministers agreed on a draft resolution to re-open embassies in Baghdad.
"We have demanded an immediate implementation of the resolution, " Zebari said, adding that the resolution, which will be submitted to the upcoming Arab summit, represented "the maximum line" of Iraq.
Zebari also said he had asked other Arab countries, mainly those oil-rich Gulf nations, to remit Iraq's debts, which he said amounted to several billion U.S. dollars.
Despite the resolution to re-open embassies and debt-remitting promise, a Sudanese political analyst said that it was difficult to imagine that Arab countries would extend full and unconditional support to Iraq, which is still in turmoil with a growing insurgency and a surge in sectarian violence between Sunni and majority Shiite Muslims.
The Khartoum-based analyst, who refused to give his name, said that most Arabs still rejected to accept the reality that an Arab regime, no matter how it had been, was overthrown by a West superpower, referring to the U.S.
Another reason was that talks and negotiations among various Iraqi political factions on forming a new government failed to make significant progress because of the result of the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, which was not accepted by all parties, according to the analyst.
Zebari, however, was upbeat over the birth of a new government.
The new Iraqi government would be established by the end of April and it would be a national unity one, he said.
Zebari denied speculations that an imminent eruption of a civil war in his country.
"The united political and religious will of the Iraqi people prevents the country from slipping into this direction," he said.
Zebari said that it was up to the Iraqi government to decide on the withdrawal of foreign forces after the mandate of the foreign troops in Iraq ends at the end of 2006 under the UN Security Council resolution.
"The departure of these troops depends upon the decision of us, the Iraqi people," Zebari said.