Priorities After Damascus Summit

  • 1 April 2008

The 20th Arab Summit was held in the backdrop of Syria's strained relations with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The tension was conspicuous by the absence of the Saudi King and Egyptian President as well as the nominal representation sent by Cairo and Riyadh to this convention, which was held in Damascus. It is also significant to note that Lebanon had completely boycotted the summit. Despite these tensions, the final communique of the summit underscored the importance of Arab solidarity, and the necessity to uphold inter-Arab cooperation and the Arab national identity to better confront external challenges. Undoubtedly, all these points assume high importance and are prerequisites of Arab unity.

Nevertheless, the most important priority remains the implementation of all resolutions listed in the communiqué to promote Arab cooperation in these crucial times that requires inter-Arab reconciliation today, not tomorrow. Arab unity is the principal prerequisite for joint Arab endeavor. Therefore, there is a pressing need for taking real and determined steps to resolving problems that beset inte-Arab relations. This is necessary because Arab interests are common, regardless of differences in their priorities at the present crucial stage. The shared destiny of Arabs is not a slogan but a reality. Secondly, it is necessary to find a joint Arab position to combine efforts at different levels: political, economy and cultural.

Arab accord offers the only chance for Arab countries to resolve their problems and in its absence Arab relations would be plagued by several adverse consequences. This fact accentuates the need to overcome existing differences among some Arab countries. It is hoped the final communiqué of the "Damascus Summit" would serve as a basis for the realization of this agreement. The statement also called for achieving reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas movements and warned against the undesirable cost of the present standoff. If the Lebanese issue was not raised at the summit because of the Lebanese boycott, the gap could be filled by joint Arab endeavor. To sum up, the statement has raised a very important matter, the need to face external challenges by first realizing a broad Arab agreement. From this point of view, this agreement would be vital for activating joint Arab endeavor to develop efforts related to the solution of Arab affairs in present times, especially the "Palestinian problem" and the "Lebanese crisis."