Hosted by Jordan, Arab leaders convened end of March for the 28th annual summit of the Arab League, under the shadow of turmoil and chaos in the Middle East. The Arab world seems divided and split on just about every issue, except for one.
The key issues on the agenda, as depicted in aljazeera, included the following: Syria, Yemen, Iraq, counter-terrorism, Iran, Libya and the Middle East peace process. There is one common aspect to just about all these issues – Iran. Iran is mentioned as a topic on its own, but it stands behind most, if not all, of the challenges. The Arab world finds itself on one side, and Iran on the other. No surprise then that most of the leaders attending the summit had a full mouth on Iran.
Let us start with the Peace process. The Arab league stands behind the 15 year old Arab Peace Initiative, which offers recognition of Israel’s right to exist for Israeli withdrawal from territories. This initiative has received new hope with the election of Trump, as he has also indicated that he seeks to bring the Sunni states into the framework of peace – towards an “ultimate deal”. Israeli and Palestinian leaders have endorsed the idea and principles in the past. The Arab summit also endorses the two state solution. Iran stands as the opposition, as they are against any resolution of the conflict, any recognition of Israel and continue to support the radical resistance groups.
The proxy war in Syria, has entered its seventh year, with no hope for stability in the near future. Iran is one of the key players there, boasting that if not for them Assad would have fallen long time ago. Since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the country sank into turmoil, currently the bed of the battle against ISIS. Iran plays a central part there too. The conflict in Yemen again witnesses internal battle, between the Iran backed Houthis and the government of Yemen. Terrorism and Counter-terrorism – would be superfluous to expand on Iran’s key role.
Wherever you look, you see Iran. Therefore, it should not surprise us that most of the Arab leaders at the summit had much to say about Iran – and not in a positive manner. The draft resolution includes 15 negative points against Iran, as detailed in rudaw. In general condemning “Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of Arab States“, demanding that Iran halt all its destabilizing activity, rejecting Iran’s meddling in Bahrain and Syria, slamming Iran’s meddling in Yemen. It seems that the Arab world can unite around one thing – their fear of Iran and the feeling of threat elevating from Iran.
It is surprising to see how the media coverage does not emphasize this aspect of unity enough.