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Arabs appear helpless over Iraq

CAIRO, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Arabs appeared to be helpless in checking Iraq's speedy slide towards sectarian strife amid failure to convene a long-delayed national reconciliation summit.

The foreign ministers of ten Arab countries who convened under the chairmanship of Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mousa Tuesday will make yet another attempt to convince rival Iraqi factions to get together at the League's seat in Cairo next February. Such efforts are geared towards averting what appears to be an inevitable full-fledged sectarian war, an Arab diplomatic source told United Press International.

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A preparatory meeting for the aspired reconciliation summit held at the Cairo-based Arab League in November 2005 proved to be in vain as it failed to convince the warring Iraqi factions to hold their fire and end bloodletting as a first step towards consensus.

Mousa sounded the alarm, warning that "Iraq's unity, territorial integrity, identity, social structure and Arab allegiance are seriously threatened and in great danger."

"Developments on the ground and disorder and violence sweeping Iraq necessitate an immediate Arab action to protect Iraq's future from the dangers of fragmentation and slipping into war that would spill over the border and threaten the region's security and stability," Mousa warned.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiar Zibari was critical of what he described as "Arab neglect and slackening" in taking a leading role to help resolve Iraq's crisis.

"I have asked for a clear Arab support of Iraq's political process and government in which Egypt would take the lead," Zibari said after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"The increasing Iranian role in Iraq of which we are complaining is due to the decline of the Arab role," Zibari added.

The meeting convened in the absence of Syrian Foreign Minister Waleed Muallem, whose country is allied to Iran, which the Arabs accuse of encouraging sectarian strife in Iraq.

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