The Arab Emergency Summit in Mecca: Provocative and Invective

When an Arab emergency summit is called to convene, one would naturally assume the existence of an urgent Arab crisis which requires immediate attention. So, when king Salman of Saudi Arabia called for an emergency Arab summit to convene in Mecca, the holiest Muslim city, the natural assumption was that there is an urgent Arab crisis to be dealt with, immediately.

Therefore, one had to assume the urgent Arab emergency summit meeting in Mecca on May 30, 2019, would have to do, though belatedly, with the ramifications of Arab states destroying Arab states, Muslims killing Muslims, Arabs killing Arabs. Or perhaps more specific urgent Arab matters such as the American recognition of a united Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, the moving of the American embassy to Jerusalem, the declaration by Netanyahu of his intention to annex the major Israeli settlements with American acquiescence or with the American recognition of the Israeli annexation of the Syrian Golan, or the “Deal of the Century”. Surprisingly and unfortunately the summit dealt with none of the above.

On the face of it, the summit was an official Arab emergency summit, but in reality, it was a Saudi Arabian summit and the agenda was a Saudi Arabian agenda: Iran, which was practically the exclusive item on the agenda and in the final communique. No perceptive Arab affairs genius would have thought of an urgent need for an emergency Arab summit to deal with a presumed ‘Iranian threat’ to the Arabs. There is mutual animosity and perception of security threats between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and a very few Arab states, mostly in the Gulf region, on the other hand. However, there are no similar feelings between the majority of other Arab states and Iran.

The final communique was delivered by the Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, at the conclusion of the summit. It starts with a preamble and ten operative paragraphs. Iran is mentioned in the preamble and the operative paragraphs no less than fifteen times. The onslaught on Iran full of provocations and invectives started with the preamble and moved on with gusto in the operative paragraphs.

The impetus for convening the emergency summit, as noted by Mr. Aboul Gheit, was “the serious repercussions of the attack by the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist militias on two oil pumping stations in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the attack on commercial vessels in the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates.”

In view of the killing and wounding of millions of Muslim and non-Muslim Arabs, the immigration and displacement of more millions, the chaos and destruction and the rendering of several Arab states as failed states, it is amazing that attacks on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, and on four commercial vessels in the territorial waters of the UAE, in which the culprit is uncertain, warranted the convening of an emergency Arab League summit to target and condemn Iran. It is made clear in the preamble, and the ten substantive paragraphs, of the communique that the culprit is Iran. But why the certainty that Iran is the culprit? Because John Bolton, American National Security Adviser, who is not known for his honesty and truthfulness, said so! Mr. Bolton said he will provide the evidence later; thus, a new legal norm: Convict then provide the evidence.

Not only the reason for convening of the emergency summit is amazing, but the content of the ten-paragraph communique is shocking.

1. Historically and traditionally, Israel and Zionism are standard features in Arab League summit communiques. Thus, the present summit communique is a first for not including the terms Israel nor Zionism once.

2. Similarly, Palestinians are a standard feature in Arab League summit communiques. Thus, the present communique is also a first for not mentioning the Palestinians once. Although, as an afterthought, the last sentence of the last paragraph ten states that the issue of Palestine is “the main Arab issue”, but it did not merit a single operative paragraph.

3. While the communique does not include the aforementioned names, it has certainly gone overboard in provocatively and invectively mentioning Iran/Iranians and often preceded by ‘condemning’ and ‘denouncing’, no less than fifteen times.

4. Syria is mentioned once in paragraph ten for the purpose of condemning Iran. It is ironic that the Arab states, who expelled Syria from the League, the majority of which were not independent states when Syria and five Arab states established the League in 1945, met in a presumed Arab League summit and have suddenly become concerned about Syria. They denounced “the Iranian interference in the Syrian crisis and its implications for Syria’s future.”

The irony is that the ‘Iranian interference’ is legitimate, because it came at the request of the legitimate Syrian government and “supported Damascus’s efforts in fighting terrorism which was supported by some of those meeting in this summit”, as noted by the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

The Arab summit in Mecca was a Saudi Arabian conference attended by Arab states to discuss Saudi Arabia’s perceived and contrived Iranian threats. Threats which are, largely, not shared by most of the Arab states, not even shared by some of the Arab Gulf states. The contention that Iran constitutes a threat to the Arab states is contentious, and irrespective of what Netanyahu, Bolton and Pompeo claim, it is Iran which is threatened by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Finally, why manufacture a new crisis, and a potential war in the Muslim Arab region which is already ravaged by a multitude of crises, conflicts and wars?

By Elias Samo, Ph.D.,
Source: Strategic Culture

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