Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Doha Summit of Repentance | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The problem with the Arab world is not the lack of meetings of its leaders, but rather the problem lies in these Arab meetings. This is evident in the history of Arab summits and even today as what is agreed upon is not implemented and what is proposed in these meetings is repeated over and over again.

We saw Colonel Gaddafi at the recent Qatar Summit and we heard what he said about the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz. If that was the Colonel’s idea of an apology, then what is his idea of an argument? We saw how before the summit, [the Qatari Foreign Minister and Prime Minister] Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim “repented” sarcastically for inviting Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Hamas to the summit.

We heard how the Syrian President said that peace cannot be achieved with an enemy that does not believe in peace. So what about the recent Syrian statements about wanting peace and the necessity of the US playing a role [in this process]? Which of these directions should we follow?

Moreover, the Syrian President said that discussions must take place amongst the Arabs before any Arab initiative [for peace] is proposed. But the question here is: can discussions be held with Arabs before there is any coordination with Iran on its interference in our affairs?

When the Doha Summit states that it is against the criminal court to try Sudanese President Omar al Bashir, giving this issue time and consideration through discussions and its closing statement, what kind of credibility do the Arabs have when they are turning a blind eye to the victims of Darfur whilst at the same time demanding that criminals of the Israeli war [on Gaza] are put on trial? Furthermore, what about the Hariri tribunal?

Therefore, the Arab problem lies in the meetings, not the lack of them, as there are no clear agendas for these summits and no guarantees that attendees will stick to these agendas. In fact there is no guarantee that there will be no ill-mannered comments and hostility in the speeches.

Some Arabs make independent decisions and yet want all Arabs to be held accountable; others attend summits for their own sake and others are doing what they can and using money to secure a role, even if there are no basic requirements [for such a role].

I believe that because of what we have seen, and what we are still seeing, it has become absolutely necessary that the Arab summits are held at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo under the leadership of the Arab state that is entrusted with holding the summit. This is in order to get rid of ineffective competition and to avoid unwanted and unnecessary invitations.

It is also important that there is a clearly-defined timetable for the summits, which would not change for any reason and do not allow for impromptu statements that have not been prepared or agreed upon. This is so that the length and number of speeches is taken into account and so that there may be a mechanism even for written statements that do not necessarily always have to be read through a microphone.

What we saw take place in Doha was the continuation of a recurring error and Arab emotionalism that we are yet to understand in spite of all the tragedies that have occurred. Regardless of the resounding speeches and the accusations, the Arabs have not engaged in one planned war and they will not because those who are known for their chatter have not fired a single bullet for a long time.

Moreover, those who are trustworthy and sincere find themselves facing leaders who do not act based on what the say, and lead our region from one disaster to another. It must be said that not all Arabs are same; there are those who consider remaining in power an accomplishment and there are others who consider the realization of delusional victories an achievement…but there are also those who want construction, education and to advance their citizens.