This week, the only interesting news in Baghdad will be unwelcome type: it will most likely come in the form of terrorist bombings by foreign Salafis from across the sisterly Arab borders.
The Arab summit in Baghdad is hardly worthy of its name. Most top Arab leaders are either staying away or haven’t taken office in their own countries yet. Others like Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain are still trying to put down popular uprisings. In fact most Arab summits in recent decades have been frustrating affairs. The only redeeming value used to be the entertainment provided by the predictably unpredictable speeches of the late Mu’ammar Qaddafi and occasional reactions to them. With Qaddafi gone, Arab summits will now probably become as boring as GCC summits (can’t get more boring than that now that the Brezhnev Politbureau is gone). I hope I am wrong, but early signs are not encouraging.
This editor of Asharq Alawsat
(Saudi semi-official daily) ties the success of the summit with internal Iraqi politics, with how the al-Maliki government deals with pro-Saudi elements inside Iraq. This is not to say that al-Maliki is right: nobody in Iraq is right these days and corruption is as rife there as in Saudi Arabia, except it is not as organized and with less decorum. Besides, the new Iraqi potentates had been in exile for years and need to make up or lost time: that may explain the quick spread of corruption and at different strata of society. I imagine spending decades in exile in Tehran or Damascus wasn’t much fun (these cities are not at the top of my list even for someone who is not in exile).
Under the Baath regime corruption was confined to Saddam Hussein’s family and friends and upper party leaders. Sort like it is in Saudi Arabia now where major corruption is confined to princes and potentates and their retainers and agents. The new Iraqi corruption is more in the open and more “egalitarian”, it has seeped to the lower levels of society. In Reagan-esque terms; it has trickled down to the middle classes. What is dangerous about that is that it is becoming a sort of entitlement for a wider swath of society and harder to get rid of.
As for corruption at the top: that can be stopped by an order from the king or dictator. Unless he is overthrown first.