The Arab Summit, Rarely about the Arabs

2 04 2009


Getty Images -

Getty Images -

In my household, news of the annual Arab League Summit was always greeted with sarcasm and cynicism. My father and uncles would wave their hands to the side, turn their heads away from the television and frown.

“They never do anything,” one of them would inevitably say, before starting a long argument about the state of the Arab world today.

Although the women never seemed very interested in politics, some of them would still complain. “Shame on them,” my grandmother sometimes said.

This year’s Arab League Summit was no different. Although I am very far away from home, my family mentioned nothing over the phone about the new fiasco, with Libyan Qadafi storming out, and Sudanese al-Bashir greeted in. It was simply like any other week.

Although I have not followed this year’s summit closely, two articles in Arab news sources drew my attention.

Regular commentator Talal Nizaneddin (sometimes Nizameddin) wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Lebanese Daily Star yesterday, depicting the Arab countries far two divided to accomplish anything. The two “I”s of Israel and Iran are, in his view, the real chess players.

“The Arabs, watching the great Iranian-Israeli chess game unfold, have ended up pawns,” said Talal, “Their leaders, symbols of multi-decade ruling regimes, looked bruised and battered during the Summit in Doha.”

Talal criticizes the endorsement of al-Bashir and Arab rejection of the warrant (although he, too, doubts its technical legitimacy).

Another article on Al Jazeera Arabic by Abdul Sattar Qasem, predicted the outcome of this summit before it started. Criticizing the state of the Arab world, from human rights vilations, to economical issues to many social issues, Qasem writes (and I translate here):

“The Arab countries don’t trust each other, and they treat each other on the basis of doubt, fear and conspiracy. The history of their relations prove this and it is filled with conspiracies, attempts of coups, destruction and violations.”

Who said the Arabs can’t criticize themselves, huh?

I also recommend reading a critical blog post by Scott MacLeod for the Time magazine.

I agree with almost everything said in these articles.  Something is inherently wrong with these summits. They have become gatherings for accusations and rhetoric. We need firm actions from those who have the leverage and the power. No more words please.



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