Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 02:44 | SYDNEY
Saturday 18 Aug 2018 | 02:44 | SYDNEY

Breaking glass ceilings and security barriers


Rodger Shanahan


28 October 2008 10:13

Middle Eastern diplomatic appointments do not normally elicit a great deal of interest, but some developments on this front are worthy of closer scrutiny. The UAE recently appointed its first two female ambassadors (to Sweden and Spain), an act that followed closely on the heels of Bahrain’s appointment of a female ambassador to Washington.

Of more significance, though, has been the flurry of Arab ambassadorial appointments to Iraq, further reinforcing perceptions that the security situation is improving. Arab states had been wary of appointing ambassadors, given that the Jordanian embassy was targeted by a car bomb that killed 14 in 2003, the Egyptian envoy was kidnapped and killed in 2005 and the Bahraini charge shot and wounded a few days later, while an Emirati diplomat was kidnapped in 2006.

Long sought after by the US as an indication that the situation in Iraq had stabilized and as a sign that Arab states were willing to recognize the Shi’a-led government in Baghdad, the red carpet has recently been glued to the tarmac at Baghdad International Airport, such has been the pace of ambassadorial arrivals.

The Emirati ambassador presented his credentials in Baghdad last month, while this month has seen the Jordanians, Bahrainis, Syrians and Kuwaitis all follow suit. While such appointments have proved the writer of this LA Times editorial overly pessimistic, the absence of the long-promised but yet-to-be appointed Saudi Arabian ambassador remains an ongoing limit to full diplomatic recognition of the Iraqi government in the Arab world.