Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mubarak and the Saudi king decide to dispense with the traditional Arab hospitality

Not only was Prime Minister Maliki rebuffed in his attempt to meet with Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on his current tour of some Arab capitals, it is seems doubtful Hosni Mubarak would have let him in the door either, if it hadn't been for the niceities surrounding the upcoming meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh. Al-Quds al-Arabi headlines the Saudi rebuff, but the Iraqi paper Azzaman has more detail on the whole picture, reporting in its top story this morning as follows:
[Maliki] failed in his efforts to meet with Saudi king Abdullah, who initially excused himself from such a meeting for reasons of protocol and because his schedule was full, but it wasn't long before a Saudi diplomatic source told the German news agency that one reason for the refusal was "his unhelpful attitude toward certain groups in Iraq, and his favoritism toward other groups, along with his efforts to strengthen the role of Iran in Iraq." Maliki had relied on the Americans to arrange the visit [to Riyadh] before going on to the Sultanat of Oman for a protocol visit described by observers as without political value, [adding] Maliki was anxious to visit Muskat, on the heels of a visit there by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

[In Cairo, Mubarak] received Maliki at the beginning of his Arab tour, and appeared sullen. A political source told the Azzaman reporter in Cairo that Mubarak insisted the meeting include Maliki himself only, and refused to allow the participation of Iraqi security officials who were accompanying [Maliki on his tour]. Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif said after the meeting: "Egypt urges the government of Iraq to carry out reconciliation [or reforms]". And the same Egyptian source said the visit of Maliki to Cairo was in trouble from the start, and likely [a Maliki-Mubarak meeting] wouldn't have happened at all, if not for the fact there is to be a conference soon in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.