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Seeming to be more realistic about the Riyadh summit than any other that preceded it, the Arab leaders have presented issues capable of being resolved and deferred the suspended ones that require more time to ripen. Although the Lebanese parties were expecting a magical solution to come out of the Riyadh summit – even before the meeting was in session – it has become clear that the Lebanese issue will not be the lucky winner.

Contrastingly, the issue that has received collective and more focused attention is the Palestinian one because the active players, Hamas and Fatah, have managed to agree on principles having practically begun the implementation of the Mecca Declaration. As such, this becomes the point of departure from which Arab leaders in Riyadh will follow the Palestinian efforts to activate the Beirut [peace] initiative to take the first real step towards Jerusalem and the creation of a Palestinian state.

It seems the second issue to be tackled will be Sudan, whose people are probably unaware that their country is closer to an international war than Iran. The world is prepared on a popular and political level to repeat the Kosovo war to end the tragedy in Darfur. Matters have deteriorated because Sudanese politicians continue to believe that the US is drowning in the quicksand that is Iraq and ensnared in Iran’s net that it will not open another front. This view is a complete fallacy. On a global scale, there is increasing popularity for going to war for the sake of Darfur that is unparalleled by any other war in the world. The Western governments, including the moderate ones, have become convinced of the necessity of a military solution – if the international political one were to fail.

All news coming out of Riyadh refer to a rushing to forestall the impending tragedy and silence the war drums by offering solutions that meet the international demand to protect the people of the distressed region from the evil of the militias, and to assure the Sudanese government that there is no intention to divide the country under the pretext of helping the people of Darfur. In addition to Arab leaders, the summit has brought to the table officials from international, African and Islamic organizations for this purpose. If it were to succeed it will have spared the region a huge tragedy.

But what about Iraq and Lebanon?

An official said that he informed the Lebanese that they have to first agree on the basics so as to be able to sit at the table of this summit – or any other. Without an initial agreement, the Lebanese parties cannot reach an agreement and this failure can only deepen the extent of discord, which is the last thing the Arabs want in their summit. The Iraqi issue is similar to the Lebanese one; the summit backs all the Iraqi government’s key projects, however it cannot impose political solutions on other parties and it is pointless to sit for negotiation when they are still not prepared to.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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