As has happened with other Arab League summits, this one’s date was a matter of speculation. There were rumours it might be postponed or cancelled outright.
This year’s summit also faced another scheduling stumbling block — Qatar’s participation. Doha’s refusal to sever its questionable connections with radical Islamists and the Iranian regime has strained its ties to many Arab countries, especially the Saudi-led quartet.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz ended all speculation when he declared:
“We will not accept any resolutions to the crisis [with Qatar] outside an Arab or a Gulf framework but that does not mean we will bar Qatar from attending the upcoming Arab summit.”
Doha has been perpetuating the row with its neighbours by seeking to build international support rather than resolve matters regionally. Its behaviour is part of a larger regional security problem, one that deserves close examination by Arab leaders.
The fate of the Arab world and its very cartography seem to be often shaped by non-Arab actors, each working to its own agenda.
There can be no better illustration of this parlous state of affairs than the recent Russian-Iranian-Turkish talks on the future of Syria.
Arab leaders can hardly fail to note the particularly nefarious role played by Tehran and its proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq. A strong message from the summit would help Tehran realise the Arab world is willing to stand up to its aggressive agenda across the region.
The summit should overcome its divisions and push for a fair and durable settlement of the Palestinian issue. By means of its egregious settlements policy, Israel is seeking to impose an illegal status quo that irreversibly forecloses any option of a fair solution.
The Trump administration has yet to deliver anything tangible on its promised “deal of the century”. Revisiting the 2002 Arab peace plan might be a vital objective for the summit.
All across the Arab region, be it in Libya, Yemen, Syria or Iraq, there is an urgent need to end the state of war and strife.
There is a need for negotiated solutions that would pave the way for reconstruction and development. That is the only way forward for the Arab world.