Arab Summit 2018: Middle East Leaders Meet as Tensions Threaten to Trigger WAR
ARAB leaders are preparing to meet in Saudi Arabia ahead of the 29th Arab League summit as tensions in the region, including the escalating Syrian crisis, threaten to push the world into a global conflict.
BY: CIARAN MCGRATH
The worsening situation in Syria, the recent missile attack on Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen, the threat posed by Iran, and the Palestinian issue will all be at the centre of discussions, confirmed a spokesperson for the secretary general of the Arab League.
The agenda was scheduled to be agreed at a preparatory meeting today in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Foreign ministers from the league’s 22 member states are expected to attend, with the exception of Syria, whose membership has been suspended since November 2011 as a result of the civil war.
The ongoing diplomatic row between Qatar and four other Arab nations, including the hosts, has also cast doubt over whether the Qataris will participate.
Mahmoud Afifi, the official spokesperson of secretary general of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit, confirmed the summit would address concerns in Syria, Libya and the unrest in Yemen.
He acknowledged: “This meeting will come amid troubling times in the Arab World.”
Dammam’s meeting will be the first Arab League summit since Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar 10 months ago.
Mr Afifi added: “Talks at the Summit will be mainly dominated by the foreign interferences in Arab states, particularly from Iran and Turkey.”
He said ministers and international officials would be paying special attention to the current situations in Syria, Yemen, and Libya, as well as the subject of Iranian interference in Arab affairs.
Also speaking at the preliminary meeting, Jordanian permanent representative to the Arab League Ambassador Ali Al-Ayed described the apparent chemical attack on the Syrian city of Douma as “one of the most sorrowful events in Arab history”, suggesting it was just the latest in a series of crimes perpetuated against the innocent people of Syria
The Arab League supported Mr Guterres’ call for an independent investigation of the killings by Israeli forces, he added.
Last Friday, thousands of Palestinians marched near the border fence between Israel and Gaza, prompting Israel to warn the they were putting their lives in danger by doing so.
Mr Aboul-Gheit said Palestinians were demanding their rights “and they will not be forgotten or diminished”.