As Arab leaders converge on Baghdad for a landmark summit meeting this week, they will be treated to carefully chosen glimpses of a new Iraq: gleaming hotel lobbies, renovated palaces and young palm trees lining an airport highway once called the Road of Death.
For Iraqi diplomats and officials, the three-day meeting of the Arab League is a banner moment for a country emerging from decades of war, occupation and diplomatic isolation. Iraq’s leaders see a rare chance to reassert themselves as players in a transformed Arab world by hosting the first major diplomatic event here since American troops withdrew in December.
But just beyond the cement walls and freshly planted petunias of the International Zone lies a ragged country with a bleaker view.
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