Iraqi security forces fanned out across the Iraqi capital Saturday ahead of a regional conference aimed at easing tensions in the Middle East and emphasizing the Arab country's new role as mediator.
Among the invitees are archenemies Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rivalry has often played out in Iraq and other countries, including Yemen and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia has said it would be represented by its foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan. It was not clear what kind of representation Iran would have at the conference.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah as well as representatives from Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates were expected to participate. French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is co-organizing the meeting, arrived in Baghdad early Saturday. Participants were expected to discuss a regional water crisis, the war in Yemen and a severe economic and political crisis in Lebanon that has brought the country to the point of collapse.
Iraqi special forces deployed in Baghdad, particularly around the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies and is the seat of the Iraqi government.