Arab News, Sunday, Apr 15, 2018 | Rajab 28, 1439
Arab leaders meet in Saudi Arabia as Syria tensions reach boiling point
Leaders of the 22-nation Arab
League, who will meet in the Saudi city of Dhahran on Sunday, are expected to
stress continuity in their efforts to find a solution to the Syrian conflict. It
follows airstrikes by the US, UK and France against the Assad regime on
Saturday. The leaders are likely to seek Arab and international support to
increase pressure on the regime to find a solution to the conflict.
Their push for a tough stand against Iran is expected to dominate the Arab
League Summit as regional tensions grow over the wars in Syria and Yemen.
The fate of Jerusalem will also be on the agenda as the US prepares to move its
embassy there from Tel Aviv after declaring it Israel’s capital.
“All key regional issues are on the agenda, with Syria, Yemen and Palestine at
the top,” Ali Al-Kayed, Jordanian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Qayid, founding member of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR),
said Saturday’s airstrikes are “largely welcomed by Western and Arab nations,
which condemn (the regime’s) crimes against humanity by repeatedly using
chemical weapons against civilians.”
He added: “There is an urgent need to defuse the crisis in Syria, where more
than half of the population has either fled the country or become homeless.”
He asked: “Should the world sit and watch as an arrogant ruler (Syrian President
Bashar Assad) commits genocide in his own country?”
Al-Qayid urged Arab
leaders to take “stern and decisive action” to resolve the conflict once and for
He commended the US, UK and France for Saturday’s attack, saying when a ruthless
regime commits war crimes, the international community has the right to take
action and save innocent civilians.
Arab leaders and heads of delegations started arriving in Dhahran on Saturday to
take part in the summit, SPA reported.
They were received by Prince Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, governor of Eastern
Region; Prince Ahmed bin Fahad bin Salman, deputy governor, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit,
secretary general of the Arab League, and a number of officials.
Thursday’s preparatory meeting of Arab foreign ministers said there could be “no
peace and security in the region as long as Iran continues to interfere in the
domestic affairs of Arab states.”
The meeting was led by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, who received the
Arab League’s rotating chairmanship from his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi
in the presence of the secretary-general.
Addressing the meeting, Aboul-Gheit said the decline of Arab influence on the
situation in Syria had led to the “domination of foreign powers” there, paving
the way for the country’s eventual disintegration. “The crisis in Syria can only
be resolved through a political solution,” he added.
Saudi Arabia is likely to seek Arab support to pile the pressure on Iran, an
analyst told AFP.
“Saudi Arabia is going to push for a much harsher stance on Iran — not
necessarily on the nuclear dossier per se, but on Iranian influence in the Arab
countries, particularly Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen,” said Karim Bitar of the
Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Affairs.