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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August, 2003, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Arabs snub US over Iraq troops
Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo
The Iraq war was a major blow to the Arab League
Arab League foreign ministers have ruled out sending troops to help US forces to stabilise Iraq.

The ministers, meeting in Cairo on Tuesday, agreed that sending Arab forces "cannot be considered in the current circumstances," the organisation's secretary-general Amr Moussa said.

"We should work to put an end to the occupation and allow the Iraqi people to form a national government," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

The ministers from 11 Arab states and the Palestinian Authority also refused to recognise the US-backed Iraq Governing Council as a legitimate government.

"The Council is a start but it should pave the way for a legitimate government that can be recognised," Mr Moussa said.

The Council did not send any representatives to the Cairo meeting.

Reeling from crisis

The BBC's Magdi Abdelhadi in Cairo says the US intervention in Iraq has plunged the 22-member Arab League into one of its worst ever crises.

Some members - notably Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain - offered facilities for the US-led invasion, but Syria and others strongly opposed it.

An Arab League spokesman quoted by AFP said the United States had asked 70 countries to send forces to help stabilise Iraq.

The Cairo meeting will most likely spark fresh complaints about the Arab League's failures on issues close to Arab hearts: the Palestinians and Iraq, our correspondent says.

The Iraq war prompted various initiatives to reform the organisation, including a mechanism to resolve Arab conflicts, a pan-Arab court of justice and a pan-Arab parliament.

But critics say that, without an explanation for the Arab League's chronic failure to implement its own resolutions, such proposals will not be worth the paper they are written on.

And the fall of the Baathist regime in Baghdad has discredited ruling elites across the Arab world, our correspondent says.


Calls for democratic reforms have become widespread, but there is little agreement on where to start or on the content of such reforms, he adds.

Critics argue that without democratic reforms within Arab societies, the League will continue to reflect the failures of these societies: a lack of accountability and failure to uphold the rule of law.

The Arab League members attending Tuesday's meeting were: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinian Authority.

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