Palestine was, is, and will remain a key issue for the Arab and Muslim world until there is a fair settlement of the conflict. And, as if to underscore this point, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz on Sunday named the 29th Arab
Summit held in Dhahran the ‘Jerusalem Summit’. “Palestine and its people are in the hearts of all Arabs and Muslims,” the king said.
Despite being a key ally of the United States, he also criticised US President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to transfer America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem. At a time when the region is bedevilled by scores of challenges, Arab leaders at least presented a united front. There was broad agreement on the issue of interference in Arab affairs, given Iran’s relentless push to exert its influence in Arab countries.
With the help of its armed proxies — non-state actors like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al Houthis in Yemen, the Shiite militias in Iraq, and regimes such as that of Bashar Al Assad in Syria – Tehran has been tightening its stranglehold on these key Arab states. And it continues its mischief in other Arab countries, including in Gulf states, by trying to stir up sectarian tensions. King Salman was unequivocal in his condemnation of Iran. “We renew our strong condemnation of Iran’s terrorist acts in the Arab region and reject its blatant interference in the affairs of Arab countries,” the king said.
The final communique also reaffirmed the UAE’s sovereignty on its three islands — Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mousa — occupied by Iran. It called on Tehran to respond to the UAE’s initiative to find a peaceful solution to this issue, either through direct negotiations or international arbitration.
Though no mention was made of the Western strikes against Syria, the regime was conspicuous by its absence. The Arab League suspended Syria from the organisation in 2011, when Al Assad began his brutal crackdown against the Syrian people, which continues to this day and has left half a million Syrians dead. Syria’s suspension from the League should serve as a reminder to the regime that in order to re-enter the Arab fold, it needs to stop its bloody campaign against civilians, and start a genuine political dialogue with the opposition.
Qatar displayed its trademark arrogance, with the Emir opting not to attend the event. As UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, tweeted, it was “a natural and regrettable result of the policy of obstinacy adopted by Doha since the crisis began”.