Thorny issues highlighted in yearly Arab summit
16 Apr 2018, 00:03 ( 10 days ago)
With almost all the focal issues reiterated, the one-day Arab League (AL) Summit again presented unwavering stands of the attendees, but no clear-cut way out for the utterly chaotic region.
Syrian crisis, Jerusalem issue, Yemen war, Iran's role ... seem never stopping headlining world media reports, and here again peaked Arab leaders' appeals in the 29th AL Summit held in eastern Saudi Arabia's city of Dhahran on Sunday, with member state leaders and world organization heads attending the meeting.
"SUMMIT FOR JERUSALEM"
All the speeches delivered during the summit presented an agreed point of view: Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud directly named the summit this year is "Summit for Jerusalem," and announced an aid of 200 million U.S. dollars for the Palestinians, of which 150 million dollars for religious course and the rest for Palestinian refugees.
The king said "the Palestinian case is our priority and will remain until all the Palestinians gain their rights," stressing that Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Palestine.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appreciated the supports of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states, and said the Palestinians would not flinch in fighting for their rights and protecting Jerusalem.
He stressed that East Jerusalem has been and will always be the capital of Palestine, and censured the U.S. President Donald Trump's decision as breach of international law and his continuous support for Israel which commits crimes against the Palestinians.
"I heard Israel is applying for a seat in UN Security Council, but how could that happen when it always violates UN resolutions?" Abbas questioned, calling on all the Arab countries to block Israel's such bid.
"It is important to support Palestinians and Abbas (President of Palestine)," AL Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said.
He mentioned there has been a huge setback in the process of solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict because of Trump's announcement.
Trump announced on Dec. 6, 2017 his official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and instructed moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which promptly triggered fury and condemnation throughout the Arab world.
Things turned even worse after Palestinians' six-week long "Great March of Return" started on March 30 which has been witnessing surging casualties caused by clashes between protesters and Israeli soldiers stationed in the border area in the Gaza Strip.
IRAN AS ARCH RIVAL
Another agreement among the participants is that Iran is their common and arch rival.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi slammed Iran's misdeeds in the Middle East, implying "there is a country" establishing power in Arab world and deploying army in two Arab countries (Yemen and Syria).
"Yemen crisis needs a political solution," Sisi added. "Egypt won't allow any attack by the Houthis against Saudi Arabia."
The king also opposed Iran's interfering in other states' internal affairs, denouncing Iran's "terror acts" and calling for the Arab world against Iran.
Aboul-Gheit noted that the crises perplexing the Middle East will further deteriorate and weaken the entire region if not harnessed.
He criticized Iran as it supports the Shiite Houthi rebels which shatters Yemen and endangers bordering Saudi Arabia, saying the Arab states shall stand together with Saudi Arabia and unite against Iran.
Yemen's internationally-recognized government, backed by Saudi-led coalition, has been battling over three years Iran-backed Houthi rebels over control of the country.
UN statistics show over 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed and around 3 million displaced.
Houthi rebels have been firing missiles at Saudi cities, airports and civilian neighborhoods, most of which have been reportedly intercepted by Saudi air defense system.
DIVERGENT ATTITUDES ON SYRIAN CRISIS
However, attitudes towards the Syrian crisis, especially in the wake of the alleged use of chemical weapons, showed divergent positions.
Fewer wordings were spared for this issue, as the host of the summit Saudi Arabia had clearly expressed strong support for the sudden airstrikes launched by the U.S., Britain and France on Syria earlier on Saturday.
Meanwhile, more nonaligned comments were made.
Jordanian King Abdullah II said the Syrian crisis should be resolved through political negotiations other than any military actions which could escalate regional conflicts.
In this regard, the Astana talks only involving Russia, Iran and Turkey cannot replace Geneva talks which has more global parties, he added.
The Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah regretted that the world holds double standard in the Syrian issue, saying Kuwait will not hesitate to offer humanitarian aid to east the agony of Syrian people.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Chairman of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki, and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini are also participating in the summit.