Security preparations have been completed for the 23rd Arab League summit that will convene in Baghdad on March 29th, Iraqi officials announced Wednesday (March 14th).
A joint committee -- comprised of representatives from the Iraqi ministries of Defence and Interior and the Iraqi National Intelligence Service -- prepared four different security plans to monitor the capital during the summit, according to Deputy Interior Minister Adnan al-Asaadi.
The four plans, he said, include securing the airspace around the capital to prevent any missile or rocket attacks, securing the surrounding areas around the Green Zone, protecting Arab leaders as they travel from Baghdad Airport to the Republican Palace and their hotels, and ensuring the safety of the delegations accompanying the leaders, such as journalists, diplomats and staff.
He said 98,000 members of the army, the police, and the National Intelligence Service will be deployed across Baghdad.
"These forces will ensure that no terrorist attacks will take place in the capital or its periphery during the period of the Arab summit meeting," he said.
The deployment of the forces "will be tactical, smart, and non-chaotic, nor explicit or disturbing to citizens; nor will it cause traffic jams or restrictions on the movement of citizens because the plans were worked out with extraordinary care," al-Asaadi said.
On Wednesday, Baghdad Operations Command imposed a curfew on motorcycles, bicycles and carts "starting next Saturday and until further notice" as part of preparations.
Al-Asaadi said the curfew will not be imposed across the entire capital. Also, some of the traffic near the Green Zone and the Republican Palace will be diverted to other streets to facilitate the movement of official delegations, motorcades and journalists.
He added that Baghdad International Airport will be closed to all commercial flights from March 26-30th.
"Iraqi forces are still occasionally reviewing the drafted plans, although the present plans are ideal," said Maj. Gen. Mohammad al-Askeri, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defence.
In the past few days, he said the Iraqi army has arrested 46 suspected al-Qaeda members.
Al-Askeri said among the detainees is a suspected leader in the organisation, Najeeb Ali, "who confessed to planning to launch attacks inside the capital during the first hour of the Arab summit meeting".
"Al-Qaeda may try to carry out horrific terrorist operations while the Arab leaders are in Baghdad to claim that it is forcefully present, and to embarrass the Iraqi leaders before their Arab counterparts," analyst Abdullah al-Falluji said.
Meanwhile, on Monday Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced the completion of non-security-related preparations for the Arab summit.
Ali al-Dabbagh, chairperson of the committee overseeing the preparations, told Mawtani the Babel, Ishtar, Palestine, al-Mansour, and Baghdad hotels are ready to receive the delegates accompanying the Arab leaders. The Arab leaders will be staying at various presidential palaces in the capital, he said.