In what has been described as the “least effective meeting ever”, the annual Arab League summit was convened yesterday in the North African Arab state of Mauritania.

According to Arab League officials, the meeting, held in the absence of at least 12 leaders, focused on “fighting terrorism as the top priority” in the Arab world today. This is great. However, when one reads the final communique, all they can see is the usual general terms that call on the international community to unite against terror.

The communique should have identified practical steps to confront the current wave of extremism, which unfortunately is a product of the turmoil in the Arab world. The Arab world has been exporting this plague to European cities recently.

Another important issue that did not make it to the deliberations is the continuing interference by some external players in the internal affairs of Arab states. Countries like Iran, for example, continue to meddle in our affairs. As Iranian forces engage in full-scale war operations in Syria and to a lesser extent in Iraq, Tehran officials do not even try to hide their action plans in other countries such as Yemen, Bahrain and Lebanon.

We hoped this issue, which has led to a rise in sectarian tension in our societies and the current regional polarisation, would be prominent in the summit’s deliberations. But to our disappointment, it was ignored by the meeting due to “differences” among the delegates. If such a detrimental issue cannot be highlighted in the summit, where would it be discussed?

It is a good thing for the summit to talk about the free-trade zones and small and medium-sized businesses, but the existential questions such as pan-Arab national security must supersede at this time. The territorial integrity of many states is at stake. We are losing hundreds of innocent lives every day in those countries. There is nothing in the communique that resembles a roadmap, for example, to address those existential questions — other than of course the usual terminologies that are repeated in the Arab League communique every year.

Other than the fact this was the first summit ever held in the hospitable Mauritania, known as ‘the country of one million poets’, there is nothing to celebrate in the Nouakchott.