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An Arab Summit - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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During the preparatory meeting that was held by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, an attending journalist posed the following question to the Saudi Minister: “Have the Arab countries been divided in the same manner that the United States regards some countries as moderate and others immoderate?” The prince firmly answered saying, “We are one Arab Nation…” He then realized the associated joke and then added the punch line, saying, “With an eternal message”. The hall was filled with laughter as the once famous slogan of the Baath party became the brunt of the joke. Everybody is well aware that the party was only a source of differentiation and separation and that its calls for freedom were in fact a license to increase the number of prisons and cells that held tens of thousands of innocent people. Also, calls for “socialism” were nothing but another joke, because this “socialism” contributed to unprecedented corruption, looting, theft and financial dictatorship!

Yes the “Baath” party and its hateful and shameful likes became a malicious stain upon the history of Arabs that should be eradicated keenly just like hateful religious extremism. These are evil cancerous tumors that destroy the body, mind, heart and conscience, without mercy. And of course, its latest ironic call was for unity, the type that is introduced by force as the case has been on a number of sad occasions.

As the Arabs convened in the recent summit, some of the “heated” issues appeared to have reached the stage of completion and readiness. It is now clear which individuals seek to build bridges and communicate respectfully and build on what has been accomplished. Accordingly, the Arab Peace Initiative launched by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and endorsed by the League of Arab States, and which is about to be accredited by the international community, seems to be the appropriate opportunity to achieve unprecedented change to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Arab Peace Initiative is a continuation to the other initiatives launched by the Saudi King regarding the inter-Palestinian conflict as well as the Lebanese conflicts. This Arab support for the Arab initiative exerts unparalleled pressure upon US administration; especially in light of its continuing suffering due to the disastrous occupation of Iraq and the severe failure that it faces ensuing to management failures of the post-war period. This is also in addition to the deteriorating popularity of the United States around the world. Thus, there is an historic opportunity to achieve success this time. The only Arab leader that the people and leaders from both the Arab and the wider world are unanimous in their love and respect for is King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz; a fact that should be invested in and built upon.

What is noticeable is Thomas Friedman’s “challenge” to the Arabs in which the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques should present this initiative to the Israeli Knesset if the Arabs seek to prove their sincerity towards the peace proposal. Friedman’s proposal is unacceptable to say the least, as the ball is now completely in the Israeli court. The steps of goodwill have been taken by the Arab countries in a clear and progressing manner. What remains is to recall that Israel occupies lands, kills innocent people, and violates rights and international laws. It is unclear how Friedman had carried himself as an advocate of peace and a mediator between Arabs and Israel but this is what happened! I remember what the American journalist Scott MacLeod from “Time” magazine in the Middle East said when I questioned him whether Friedman speaks Arabic as alleged in one of his books. He answered smiling, “No, but that’s Friedman!”

A different mentality was present in the recent Arab summit and a lot is expected from this, the least of all is a position of solidarity even if some “archaic Arabs” call for positions necessary for the continuation of the media circus and the paralysis of the public.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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