What the Arab League Meeting Reveals

by Lawrence A. Franklin
August 1, 2016

The Arab League concluded its 27th annual summit on July 28 in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The sessions exposed the deep divisions in the Arab world, the bloc’s decreased influence in regional affairs, and the declining importance of Palestinian issues in the Middle East.

The annual affair apparently failed to make progress on last year’s Saudi proposal to establish an all-Arab, multinational force in response to Iran’s aggressive policies in Yemen, Iraq, and Syria. The Nouakchott-hosted sessions also seem to have made no progress toward developing a unified anti-terrorist agenda. The growth of the Islamic State presence in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa was evidently a prime motivator for the perceived need for an anti-terrorism policy.

The Arab League’s precipitous decline in political clout was symbolically exposed by the failureof many key national leaders to attend the conference. The leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Tunisia did not attend. Only eight national leaders from the 22-member organization attended the conference.

However, the most significant aspect of this year’s conference was the downgrading in significance of Palestinian issues on the agenda. Perhaps aware of this development, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas also decided not to attend. However, PA Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki explained that Abbas could not attend due to the recent death of his brother. Later, Maliki, somewhat quixotically, called upon the Arab League to help sponsor a UN Resolution to initiate a lawsuit against the United Kingdom for having embraced the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which made it official London policy to support the creation of a national home for the Jewish People.

Nevertheless, when the representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) hectored delegates that they no longer seem to treat the depressed state of the Palestinian people as the overriding issue that should unite all Arabs, his pleas seemed to fall on deaf ears. The PFLP gave public evidence of the Palestinian issue’s fall from priority, stating on their website that “this year’s resolutions are no more than a carbon copy of the resolutions of the Arab Summits made in previous years. It reflects the situation too of the Arab League which long ago lost the Arab peoples’ confidence.”

Read more here: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8612/arab-league-meeting

Like what you read? Give Gatestone Institute a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.