BAGHDAD -- The head of the Arab League yesterday strongly condemned insurgent violence in Iraq, trying to overcome suspicion of the pan-Arab body from the country's Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders on his first visit since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Secretary-General Amr Moussa is trying to organize a reconciliation conference between Iraq's sharply divided Shi'ites, Kurds, and Sunni Arabs, the first major intervention by the Arab League in the country's relentless bloodshed.
But he has faced reluctance from the Shi'ite and Kurdish leaders who have complained that the league has taken too long to seek a role, resent the league's past support for Hussein, and are suspicious that the mainly Sunni body is biased toward Iraq's Sunni Arab minority.
Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of the top Shi'ite party in the ruling coalition, criticized the league at a news conference with Moussa for not clearly enough condemning Sunni insurgents, ''terrorist groups, and pro-Saddam groups." He complained the league has in the past only condemned the ''Iraqis' suffering."
''Those statements are heard, but they are not enough when there was no condemnation to those criminals and the groups who committed these operations," he said.
Standing next to Hakim, Moussa insisted, ''We are against anyone who is fighting the Iraqi people, and the Arab League's stand is clear because anybody harming innocent Iraqis, is committing a very dangerous operation that we would never accept." Hakim -- in his clerical garb -- nodded, saying, ''Well said."
''We also know that there are those who reject the presence of a foreign occupier," Moussa went on, referring to US forces in Iraq. ''But we also understand that all these things should be resolved politically now."
An Arab League delegation was attacked last week while in the Iraqi capital to prepare Moussa's trip. No one from the delegation was hurt, but two policeman guarding them were killed.