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King Abdullah's Third Way - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz provided a lifeline for inter-Arab relations yesterday during the Arab Summit in Kuwait, providing great hope at a crucial time in a speech that encompassed everything from the bloodshed [in Gaza] to political absurdity.

Inter-Arab relations yesterday, even minutes before the convening of the summit, was facing two choices each one worse than the other; either [the summit would cause] a quarrel and the deepening of the [inter-Arab] rift, or the summit would end without achieving anything, remaining in the eyes of the Arabs another endeavor to have failed as a result of destructive differences.

However, King Abdullah decided to introduce a third approach – that is different, surprising, and auspicious- to the Summit and to the Arabs. The King delivered an unscheduled speech as sincere as himself and which rose above any disputes or details, for as they say the devil is in the details.

The King was critical of the leaders and himself for what is going on in the Arab world, and he blamed the Palestinians for their division, he then called on all Arabs without exception to make a fresh start and turn away from the disputes, while also announcing a large donation to the afflicted Gaza Strip.

The third approach for inter-Arab relations proposed by the Saudi monarch created an effect like that of an earthquake in the conference hall, and we saw with our own eyes the bewilderment in the delegations’ responses when the King asked for the floor, and after he had finished speaking.

The Syrian [Bashar Al Assad] and the Saudi Arabian [King Abdullah] and the Egyptian [Hosni Mubarak] met, and it was as if a miracle had occurred, and it is certain that the importance of this [meeting] does not end here. There are those who believe that another beneficiary of King Abdullah’s third way will be Iraq, who will move closer to the Arabs, which is what needs to be done both by the Iraqis and the Arabs themselves.

The question now is; what next? Have the inter-Arab problems been resolved?

The answer is no, the road is still a long and difficult one, but what is most important is that inter-Arab relations has survived this deep rift, for the differences the Arabs experienced over the past few weeks has been profound. What happened in Gaza was shocking, sorrowful, and shameful; whoever wants war must be able to bear its consequences, and not incite the war and then call for help from the public and from governments. The same goes for those who want to help their oppressed brothers they should do so by being honest, and not by lying and deceiving them.

The King’s speech called for the acknowledgement that Arab countries are greater than organizations and groups, and it is up to the countries themselves to recognize this. If the countries recognize and understand this than the message will reach the organizations themselves.

It is up to Hamas, if it wishes to participate in the political sphere, to distance itself from the Iranians and come under the Palestinian umbrella. There is nothing to prevent the Palestinians from disagreeing with one another, but they must not clash with arms, or imagine that Hamas and the Palestinian Cause is one and the same thing.

Wide-ranging Arab reconciliation has been achieved, but other issues need to be solved, some of which are major issues. However the biggest obstacle has been overcome and that is the breaking of the psychological barrier, and today the rift that Iran and others tried to exploit has narrowed.

It is also up to the Arabs, whether it is the Syrians, the Saudis, or the Egyptians, to come to a [mutual] accord agreeing that their countries are their countries, and that Iran is Iran. There is no objection to having good relations [with Iran], but we must draw a red line for Tehran.

And so: Will Arab relations lead to a better reality?

Reality says that the road is long, but first and foremost this question will be answered in Damascus, and in other Arab capitals, yet the entire Arab world may breathe a sigh of relief thanks to the historic speech made by the Saudi monarch in Kuwait.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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