Sirte, Asharq Al-Awsat – Well informed Arab sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Morocco, Jordan, and the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] – with the exception of Qatar – have rejected the project to “develop joint-Arab operations” put forward during the emergency Arab Summit that took place in the Libyan city of Sirte on Saturday. The sources revealed that this proposal was approved despite the “rejection – not reservations – of Arab countries, as was rumored.” The source also confirmed that Syria rejected this proposal privately, but preferred not to announce this publicly.
According to the Arab sources who participated in meetings that took place on the sidelines of the summit, the seven Arab countries [Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco and Jordan] “completely rejected this decision” and had privately described the draft resolution as being “dead before it was born.” The sources added that these rejections were made “before the ink was dry on the [draft] resolution.” The sources also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the manner that the resolution was passed “was unconstitutional, and not according to the constitution of the Arab League itself; as this was not put forward by a previous resolution at a [previous] Arab summit, so that it could be deliberated at the Sirte summit. This project was approved without being discussed and despite the rejection of 7 Arab countries.”
In response to comments made by Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Ambassador Ahmed Bin Helli, that only 3 Arab countries had expressed reservations about the decision, the Arab sources clarified that “it would have been more appropriate for Mr. Bin Helli to tell the truth; even if he could not do this he should not say the opposite.” The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that “Bin Helli said that 3 countries expressed reservations, while the truth is that 7 Arab countries expressed rejections, not reservation.” The source added “unfortunately, Bin Helli’s statement disrespects these countries and their decision.”
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa had put forward a number of proposals to the Arab League during the Sirte summit, including a “neighboring countries initiative” that could include Turkey and Iran, a request to develop the Arab League’s “operational mechanism” and a request for the Arab League to be transformed into an “Arab Union.”
Sources have also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud al- Faisal, who led his country’s delegation to the Sirte summit, along with other Arab and Gulf foreign ministers, rejected the manner in which Secretary-General Amr Musa and Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi were operating, and the way in which decisions that should only be adopted with unanimous approval were being imposed unilaterally.
Despite the 7 Arab rejections to proposals ranging from developing the operational mechanism of the Arab League, to establishing a “neighboring countries initiative” and changing the Arab League’s name, the Arab League Secretary-General and Libyan president decided to refer this proposal to the Arab League drafting committee.
Another Arab source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Gulf states expressed their reservations on the proposal to establish Arab peacekeeping troops…saying that it is more important to work towards resolving the outstanding Arab issues and files, especially those in Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia.
The source also reported that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal rejected the recommendations of the Committee of 5 countries [responsible for the Sirte summit’s preparations; Libya, Qatar, Yemen, Iraq, and Egypt] and the special protocol with regards to developing the Arab League’s operational mechanism. However Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, who was hosting the emergency Arab summit in Sirte, said “while we accept the recording of Saudi Arabia’s rejection towards the development project, the project will be launched and the summit will adopt this in its documents, and we have 5 years to implement this, and whoever wants to investigate or research this, so be it.”
The source added that “there were many observations from the majority of Arab countries on the proposal of an ‘Arab neighboring countries initiative’ saying that this idea requires time until the outstanding issues with Iran are resolved, and that there are Arab countries whose relations with Iran do not permit it to be included in the neighboring countries initiative.”
According to sources, other Arab countries, including Iraq, said that the idea of an Arab neighboring countries initiative has been on the table for a long period, and that this is not a new idea, and that it is possible for this to begin with the countries that have good relations with Iran, particularly Syria and others. However this was a position that was completely rejected.
Sources also revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has strong ties with Iran, commented on this proposal acknowledging that some Arab countries are doubtful of this, and that it is important for there to be a consensus on any decision of this type. However the sources also revealed that al-Assad pointed to the possibility of taking phased and partial steps [towards this proposal], pointing to the presence of Arab – Turkish dialogue, and that this is compatible with the Arab neighboring countries initiative.