Iraqis must be allowed to determine their future in a democratic way, Qatar's foreign minister said on Tuesday at a meeting of the six Arab states of the Gulf. Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani was opening a two-day meeting of foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which
groups Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a loose political and economic alliance.
"The future of a new and unified Iraq must be determined by providing the Iraqi people with all the necessary circumstances to enable it to run its country, choose its leaders and govern itself in a democratic way," Sheik Hamad said.
Of the six GCC states, only two have elected legislatures and, even in these countries, ultimate power remains in the hands of the royal family.
Sheik Hamad called on the US and British forces in Iraq to "intervene immediately to stop the chaos and the looting" and to maintain security in the country.
The extraordinary meeting was convened to discuss the situation in Iraq and the future of the country, following last week's overthrow of President Saddam Hussein. Sheik Hamad opened the session as Qatar holds the rotating presidency of the alliance. While some GCC states, such as Kuwait and Qatar, gave public backing to the US-led invasion of Iraq, others, such as Saudi Arabia, were far more discreet. Saudi Arabia feared a backlash by Islamic extremists among its citizens.