Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Riyadh: A Summit of Interests and Reconciliation | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page

Seeing the Saudi monarch, the Egyptian and Syrian presidents and the Kuwaiti Emir together in one shot was certainly an image that has long been absent. But this is what we saw in the Saudi capital of Riyadh recently. Today we are faced with many different analyses, with each party presenting its own view [of the Riyadh Summit].

An analysis from Lebanon, another from the Palestinians, a third from Doha and observation by the West; but what is more important than any of these is what comes out of Tehran.

Nevertheless, before anything else, one must state that the Riyadh summit was based on interests and this brings about a feeling of optimism as politics, essentially, is the language of interests, not slogans.

The Saudis are convinced that foreign interference is what caused Arab division and this threatens the security of our region; how can it not when our region has witnessed three wars in the past five years, the execution of an Arab president, a coup in Beirut and another in the Gaza Strip, charges being brought against an Arab president, not to mention that we now have an impending international court?

Egypt believes that one-upmanship and regional interference have begun to shift underneath a sensitive cover whereby what is claimed certainly does not reflect reality. The best example of this is the Palestinian Cause; whilst Cairo was assuming its role with regards to the Palestinians, there were those who were aiming to stab Egypt in the back.

Well what about Syria? Damascus wants to close most of its difficult files in a clever way. The Syrians believe that the key lies in the Golan Heights, the normalization of ties with Arabs and in opening up to the West, as Syria severed ties with the West, particularly America, for eight difficult years. So the détente Damascus achieved with France has not had the effect that Syria hoped for with respect to the Arab world and the international community. The Syrians have many interests and want to be reassured of the country’s safety.

These were the reasons behind the need for the four-way Riyadh summit. The reconciliatory meeting was purely a meeting of interests. This is where its real value and great importance lies and this is what also makes us look to the days ahead with caution.

It is wrong to expect a quick positive and dramatic change just as it is wrong to assume that there will be no change at all. This is the difficult equation and is also what explains the reactions to the Riyadh Summit that we witnessed from those obedient to Iran. The attacks on Saudi Arabia began to come from Iran’s supporters, just as we began to notice Iran’s irresolution in its political positions as a result of the isolation that Iran is experiencing after Morocco cut ties with it and after having experienced the Arab counter-attack to Iranian ambitions, in addition to the Riyadh summit.

The best example of such irresolution is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s statement in response to Turkey’s offer to mediate between Iran and the United States. He stated that his country did not require any mediation. The other important matter is discussions regarding the need for Iranian-Arab dialogue.

Therefore, today, more than ever before, it is evident that Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz’s initiative for Arab reconciliation was an important and necessary initiative culminated in the four-way Riyadh summit. Here we are today witnessing the numerous results [of the initiative] on the ground.