(BAGHDAD) — It’s a huge week in Iraq, one that Baghdad says will convince its neighbors just how far the nation has come since it was invaded by U.S.-led forces nine years ago to depose dictator Saddam Hussein.
Members of the Arab League will get to see it for their own eyes as they convene for a summit in the Iraqi capital.
The last time Arab League officials gathered for such an event in Iraq in the early 1990s, Saddam was running the show and the government was decidedly undemocratic.
Two decades later, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari has gone as far to claim “This summit could truly be called the Arab Spring summit…It is a recognition of the new Iraq that emerged since 2003 by its new leaders, its new constitution, its new policies, its new political system at the heart of the Middle East.”
What Iraqi leaders want to desperately avoid is a repeat of last week’s carnage by al Qaeda and other militants, who launched a coordinated series of deadly bombings and gun attacks that stretched from northern cities through Baghdad and into the south.
Since the summit is taking place inside the fortified Green Zone, the Arab guests would likely be shielded from any violence should insurgents go on another rampage.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Larry Register, CNN
Laura Smith-Spark, Erin McLaughlin and Nina dos Santos, CNN
Holly Yan and Joe Sterling, CNN
Steve Almasy, Ray Sanchez and Darran Simon, CNN