03/30/2017, 16.55
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Usual rhetoric aside, Arab League summit has few ideas to solve regional problems

At their annual meeting, leaders condemn "foreign interference" in Mideast conflicts. Lebanese President highlights the refugee crisis, calling for an end to "wars between brothers”. Final communiqué reiterates the two-state solution as the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Amman (AsiaNews) – The Arab League ended its 28th summit yesterday in the Jordanian town of Sweimeh on the Dead Sea coast. Slamming "foreign interference" (i.e. Iran) in the Arab world, it called for the settlement of conflicts that are tearing the Mideast apart.

The meeting discussed the Syrian refugee crisis and the fighting in neighbouring Iraq, which have had serious repercussions on some League members, most notably Lebanon and Jordan.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun focused on the refugee issues, saying that his country is "reeling" under the weight of nearly two million refugees from Syria and Palestine. For this reason, he urged an end to “wars between brothers”.

In his address, Aoun said that "anxiety and concern" dominate Lebanon, which is in need for "relief and reassurance" to help solve the crisis. For this reason, “today it is addressing your conscience”.

The summit, which brought together 15 heads of state, kings and presidents, saw leaders appeal for collaboration and unity of intent, but deep divisions remain, hindering joint action.

The host, Jordan's King Abdullah II, called on Arab nations to "take the initiative to find solutions to all the challenges that stand in the way so as to avoid foreign interference in our affairs."

Arab League head Ahmed Abul Gheit told the summit he regretted the fact that member states were watching "events in Syria without the possibility of intervening," calling the conflict "shameful."

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said it was "regrettable that certain powers are benefiting from the unprecedented situation in the region to bolster their influence and expand their control".

Despite such criticism, Arab leaders failed to hide the Arab League’s inner weakness as members pursue their own interests.

In fact, some Arab states are playing a major role in the Syrian conflict, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar who back Jihadi rebel groups fighting the Syrian government.

One important leader was absent, namely Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. After 2011, when civil war broke out, Syria lost its seat in the Arab League.

Arab leaders are divided over Assad’s future. Some say he should not play any active role in the future of the country and must leave. Others, such as Egyptian President al-Sisi, were silent on the issue and do not consider the ouster of the Syrian leader as a pre-condition for a peace deal.

Finally, the League discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict noting that the two-state solution remains the only viable option for Arab leaders.

In the final communiqué, the League called on the international community to help the Palestinian people exercise its inalienable rights to an independent state and find a solution to the refugee problem.

Despite the speeches, analysts and experts note that past Arab League summits did not result in any significant progress in solving the many problems facing the region and this one was not much better.

"The Arab (political) system is weak, divided and has been plagued by defects for years," said Oraib al-Rantawi, head of the Al-Quds Centre for Political Studies. "No breakthrough is expected."

The next summit is scheduled for March 2018 in Saudi Arabia.

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