Serious Challenges Facing the Arab Summit

  • 28 March 2015

The Arab Leaders Summit, which gets underway at Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, today, is undoubtedly taking place amid exceptional circumstances and rapid changes in the Middle East. The Summit is expected to bring to the table many issues and numerous challenges that threaten Arab countries and will emphasize the need for greater coordination among Arab leaders to safeguard their mutual interests and to meet the needs of Arab security.

The Summit comes at a time of conflict and tension within the Arab political landscape. The military operation launched in Yemen by Saudi Arabia and most other GCC countries has been response to a request from legitimate Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. This was necessary to confront the coup being carried out by Houthi militias, which threatened to ignite a civil war that could divide Yemen. Despite the wide Arab support for this military operation, the situation in Yemen will be on top of the agenda at the Summit. It is expected to seek a comprehensive solution that the country’s guarantees stability, unity and sovereignty. The solution is expected to be based on the GCC Initiative which was approved by various parties to the conflict in Yemen, beside regional and international powers.

The situation in Iraq, Libya and Syria are also matters of grave concern. ISIS (Daesh) threatens the Iraqi government after its military halted operations in Tikrit. Syria continues to suffer from a horrific crisis because of the differences in international approach. In Libya, the UN-led efforts for a political resolution between its legitimate government, which was recognized by the international community, and the armed militia occupying the airport of the capital Tripoli had not produced any positive results.

These developments will set the agenda for Arab leaders during their meeting today at Sharm El-Sheikh. Arab Summit is a collective regional framework through which Arab leaders can strengthen the pillars of an efficient Arab role to deal with potential crises in coming years. This should help avoid external interventions which may escalate the crises and widen the gap between conflicting parties.

The Sharm El-Sheikh Summit comes at a time when Arab security faces unprecedented challenges. The danger has been exacerbated by terrorism and extremism, especially following rise of ISIS in many regions inside Iraq and Syria. Acts of terrorism have increased in several Arab countries recently and Arab nations attending Sharm El-Sheikh Summit must take effective measures to repel this danger. Experience gathered over the last 15 years proves that no nation, however powerful and capable, can unilaterally defeat terrorism. Moreover, no nation can claim to be free from the evil of terrorism.

Sharm El-Sheikh Summit is a historic opportunity to take critical decisions that can safeguard mutual Arab interests and close the ranks in the face of external forces threatening Arab national security. These decisions are necessary especially in the wake of the deteriorating situations in the Middle East. Greater coordination and solidarity is needed among Arab countries to deal effectively with these developments and to contain any future negative consequences of these crises.