Arab League Summit to seek Arab solutions to Arab problems

Arab League summits are the main event in the order of joint Arab action. They resemble a compass that guides our work and determines our path and direction.


These summits are also an occasion that preoccupy Arab public opinion and do not concern the political elites or decision-makers alone. They thus have a truly enormous responsibility to always express the concerns of Arab citizens and meet some of their aspirations and ambitions.


There is no doubt that the upcoming summit, which will be hosted by Saudi Arabia on May 19, will be held at a very critical time. Concerns are increasing among Arab publics about issues such as the latest events in some Arab countries or what is happening in the world in terms of unprecedented developments, the breadth of their impact and the weight of their consequences that affect the Arab region in various ways and to varying degrees.


Some urgent issues, imposed by emergency circumstances, await the upcoming summit. The most important of which is the unfortunate crisis that has erupted in Sudan, an important Arab country due to its location, historical legacy and population.


We have all been following, with great sadness, the situation in Sudan following the outbreak of a military clash that poses serious threats to the country’s unity and the integrity of its capabilities. In addition, the consequences of the conflict and the deteriorating security situation threaten civilians, who have found themselves besieged and threatened by a clash they had nothing to do with.


It is natural and even expected for the Arab League and its member states to have a role, presence and influence in dealing with this serious crisis, and to help Sudan not only to overcome it but also to address the fundamental causes that led to its outbreak in this tragic way.


The summit, as the organizing framework for comprehensive Arab stances, can hopefully build a unified Arab position in support of Sudan and its people. We have already witnessed the organization’s early involvement in the crisis, as the Council of the Arab League has held two meetings in this regard at the level of permanent representatives.


It is quite fortunate that the summit is being held at this time, as it provides an opportunity to mobilize the various mechanisms of Arab action to deal with this grave crisis, especially since it has urgent humanitarian dimensions.


Emergency and emerging crises should not overshadow our Arab reality, which is full of prolonged and lingering crises, whether in Yemen, Syria or Libya. These crises have imposed an unimaginable cost on the countries affected and even on the Arab region as a whole. These countries have lost years — if not decades — of development, seen their territorial integrity threatened and been left vulnerable to foreign interventions that are rejected because they undermine Arab national security.


Fortunately, the parties to these crises are now clearly exhausted and drained after years of fighting and internal strife. They are starting to realize that it is impossible to resolve these conflicts militarily and that even the winner loses amid the destruction that befalls the homeland. Such circumstances usually provide an ideal climate for initiating a political settlement. Indeed, we have recently been witnessing a kind of security and military calm on the various battlefields, which paves the way for political and diplomatic efforts.

The summit provides an opportunity to mobilize the various mechanisms of Arab action to deal with the grave Sudan crisis.

Hossam Zaki

On the other hand, awareness has lately increased among Arab countries of the dangers of leaving these conflicts unresolved, especially since their catastrophic consequences do not remain within the borders of the countries where they first emerged. We have thus recently witnessed rather positive Arab action.


For instance, in Yemen, there have been positive developments in terms of calm and the exchange of prisoners between the Houthis and the legitimate government. We are looking forward to more on this path in light of the agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran that was reached in March.


In Syria, we can see action being taken to restore the Arab dimension of the prevailing crisis and not leave it in the custody of external parties, which mostly consider only their own interests. These external parties are not necessarily exposed to the dangerous, negative consequences of the unresolved continuation of the Syrian crisis, whether in terms of refugee flows, the spread of terrorism, crime and drug trafficking or other security, economic and social repercussions. However, the greatest role and the most important responsibility remains dependent on the will of the parties to these crises themselves to engage in a serious path of political settlement aimed at restoring normal conditions.


The Palestinian cause, of course, remains a strongly present pillar in all Arab summits. The upcoming summit will be held at a time when the cause faces great challenges in light of the rise to power of a right-wing Israeli government that does not believe in a two-state solution. Israeli policies have led to growing tensions and an escalation of violence and repression against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, especially since the beginning of this year. The escalation reached its climax during the month of Ramadan, when we witnessed settlers and extremists storming the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in a blatant provocation of all Arabs and Muslims, not only Palestinians.


An emergency meeting of Arab foreign ministers was held at the Arab League’s headquarters in March to strengthen the Palestinian stance in the face of this extremist Israeli approach. This month’s summit is expected to adopt resolutions that support the steadfastness of the Palestinians and reflect Arab support for them.


Although Arab summits mainly discuss political files, there are other issues that do not usually receive the focus of public opinion and the media, such as economic and social issues, although they are no less important.


A major geopolitical crisis in Ukraine has led to a series of successive crises in the global economy related to food and energy prices, high levels of inflation, and debt. Several Arab countries have been greatly affected by the serious economic and social repercussions of these crises, which is why such issues could make it to the summit’s agenda. For example, the Algiers summit of November 2022 adopted an important strategy for achieving Arab food security.


There is no doubt that the challenges facing the Arab region at the present moment prompt more urgency than ever before to carefully address the issues of economic integration and Arab investment.


In a nutshell, the convening of Arab League summits remains, in itself, evidence of the vitality of the Arab order and its ability to coordinate at the highest levels, promote consensus in visions, and crystallize unified positions that serve Arab countries and support their positions, especially in a world that is heading toward more polarization.


We all look forward to the upcoming summit in Saudi Arabia as an important addition to the balance of Arab national security and Arab development cooperation, and a step on the road toward finding and activating Arab solutions to Arab problems and crises.

• Ambassador Hossam Zaki

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