Arab League chief heads to Iraq

The Arab League secretary-general is to travel to Iraq on Monday to finish preparations for a national reconciliation conference.

    Moussa and the Arab League are unpopular among Iraqi Shia

    According to Arab League officials on Thursday, Amr Moussa’s first visit to Iraq since the US-led invasion will wrap up details of a summit to be held at an unspecified date after Saturday's constitutional referendum.

    The Arab League delegation, led by Ahmed bin Heli of Algeria, Moussa's assistant for political affairs, came under attack in Baghdad on Monday while driving to a meeting with Sunni Muslim clerics of the influential Association of Muslims Scholars.

    No one from the delegation was hurt, but two policeman escorting the delegation were killed, and six others were injured


    The attack raised additional concern for the security of Moussa, who is disliked by many Shia Muslims and Kurds in Iraq for his perceived refusal to act against Saddam Hussein's persecution of the two groups while in power.

    There also is a sense that he has
    not condemned Sunni-led attacks

    There also is a sense that he has not done enough to condemn Sunni-led attacks or to back the current Iraqi government, which is dominated by Shia and Kurds


    Sunni Arab Muslims, while a minority in Iraq, form a vast majority in most of the Arab world.

    High profile meeting

    Moussa is to meet Iraq's most powerful Shia cleric, Grand Ayat Allah Ali al-Sistani as well as government and tribal leaders.

    Bin Heli said he had given Moussa a report on the delegation findings that portrayed Iraq as facing "a huge political, economic and security crisis. Iraqis are demanding that Arabs take a bigger role in solving all those problems".

    The Arab League initiative came after eight Arab foreign ministers met earlier this month in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia and directed Moussa to go to Baghdad


    Previous efforts to hold a pan-Iraqi conference in Iraq have failed because Shia and Kurds have refused to sit down with Sunni fighters.



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