Leader says Zayed's plan was right

Iraq would have been spared misery had the Arab League acted on a proposal by Sheikh Zayed, the late President of the UAE.

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KUWAIT CITY // Iraq and the rest of the Middle East would have been spared much of the misery of the past five years had the Arab League acted on a proposal by Sheikh Zayed, the late President of the UAE, that Saddam Hussein should go into exile, according to the organisation's secretary general, Amr Moussa. WAM, the Government news agency, quoted from a lengthy interview with the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Awan, in which Mr Moussa recalled Sheikh Zayed's initiative, made at an emergency Arab summit in Sharm el Sheikh only weeks before US-led forces invaded Iraq in March 2003.

Mr Moussa said many of the evils that had riddled Iraq and the region would have been averted had the Iraqi president stepped down and left the country, as suggested by the UAE President, to avert the outbreak of war. "I totally agreed with Sheikh Zayed," Mr Moussa said. "He was right ? Although the situation was quite complex and tricky, we could have avoided all that had we taken that decision and implemented it. A major lesson for us Arabs to learn from this is that we have to sit down and engage in candid talk to agree on some strategic steps."

Since he took office as the Arab League's secretary general, Mr Moussa said he had been pressing for member states to pump money into official funds outside the organisation's official budget. "I managed to get enough funds to save the league," he said, adding that the UAE - along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Oman - had been among the states whose response had helped to save the League. - WAM