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Key issues for Arab summit in Iraq

IRAQ: Baghdad will host an Arab summit from March 27-29, the first time such a gathering has been held in Iraq in more than 20 years. Here are key issues facing the Arab world: - The Syria crisis Monitors say that more than 9,100 people have been killed in Syriaís brutal attempt to repress an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

The uprising began as protests but has now shifted to armed conflict between rebel and pro-regime forces. Despite international efforts to curb the violence, it shows no sign of abating.

The Arab League voted on November 12 to suspend Syria, one of its founding members, over its crackdown on dissent, and has attempted to broker a solution to the unrest.

The small, wealthy emirate of Qatar sits at the head of an Arab League committee dealing with events in Syria, and is leading calls for armed intervention in the conflict there.

- Consequences of the Arab Spring The December 2010 self-immolation of a Tunisian street vendor sparked protests that forced Tunisiaís long-time dictator from power and inspired uprisings across the Arab world that toppled autocratic rulers in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and others that are still ongoing such as in Syria and regular protests in Bahrain.

The Arab world is still struggling with the fallout.

- Iranís nuclear programme Tensions are high over Iranís controversial nuclear programme, which Tehran insists is for civilian purposes, while much of the West accuses Iran of seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran has warned that it will strike back in the event of an attack by the US or Israel, and has threatened to disrupt shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, a Gulf choke point for global oil shipments.

- Arab League reforms Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi has proposed a series of structural reforms aimed at strengthening the League and improving mechanisms for the implementation of its decisions.

AFP

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