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Forging closer Arab relations

Aug 05,2019 - Last updated at Aug 05,2019

The just concluded trilateral meeting held in Baghdad between Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and his Iraqi counterpart Mohammad Alhakim and his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukri is promising, but it is only the beginning of a long process that may unite the three Arab states on several fronts.

The three Arab foreign ministers agreed to hold follow-up meetings on economic, investment and trade relations to cement their broad agreements "as soon as possible". There is a lot more that needs to be discussed and agreed upon to bring the three Arab states closer together, but a beginning was, indeed, made in the trilateral summit between the leaders of the three Arab states in Cairo last March on the basis of which the recent Baghdad meeting was convened.

Until now, however, what emerged from the Baghdad meeting is a joint expression of the three countries to forge closer relations and bring their respective economies closer than ever.

It is not yet sure whether the three Arab capitals are, indeed, on the same wave length on political matters, specially when it comes to regional conflicts and issues. Without solid political cooperation between the three countries, all efforts to forge closer economic and trade relations may falter along the way.

Yet, there is no harm in trying on a step by step basis to get the three Arab countries closer together on all issues, including the Arab Gulf region in the wake of the increased tensions between Iran on one hand and the US, Britain and other Western countries on the other.

As long as the Yemeni war continues and Iran's seizure of oil tankers navigating the Strait of Hormuz remains unabated, the war-like situation in and around the strait and the Oman Gulf remains the number one issue that needs to be addressed. The trilateral meeting in Baghdad did not seem to have even referred to this growing threat in the area, much less tried to resolve it.

There will come a time when the trilateral meetings must be expanded to include other Arab countries. No one would want to give even the impression that the Arab world is divided on regional cooperation. That is why the door must be kept wide open for more Arab capitals to join the nucleus of closer Arab coordination and cooperation that was set in motion in the recent meeting in Baghdad.

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