Significant Challenges to Arab Summit in Kuwait

  • 25 March 2014

The Arab Summit, which takes place in Kuwait today and tomorrow, is of major significance not only because it is the first one to be hosted by Kuwait since its accession to the Arab League in 1961 but also because it comes at a crucial time for the region. Arab, regional and international events have resulted in serious challenges for the Arab region. There have been growing calls for all Arabs to deal with the situation with a common vision and prevent it from worsening further and limiting its ramifications in the future.

Several issues are likely to attract attention during the Summit and the Syrian crisis should be at the forefront, especially after the failure of Geneva II peace talks. This situation has been further exacerbated by the suffering of the Syrian people and the rising number of internally displaced persons and refugees in neighboring countries. The Summit will be an important occasion for discussing the political, security, and military dimensions of the crisis. It will help explore new ways of resolving the crisis; chart the course for alleviating Syrian people’s suffering and bringing stability to the Arab world as a whole.

The Kuwait Summit has come at a time when many Arab countries are battling against the threat of terrorism and extremist groups that seek to undermine security and stability and wreak havoc. This has become a major challenge because it poses threat to all member countries. The Summit will focus on developing a strong and collective position against terrorism and the groups that follow the path of violence so that the security and stability of Arab countries are maintained.

Tension and conflict characterize the political scene in the Arab world from Iraq to Palestinian territories, Somalia, Sudan, or Yemen. A strong Arab role is hence needed to resolve these crises in order to prevent foreign interference that might exacerbate the matter and widen the dispute between warring factions. Differences have cropped up between some Arab countries recently and Qatar on how to deal with some of these issues. This will also be a challenge during the Summit as several Arab countries are asking Qatar to abide by the fundamentals of collective Arab action and maintain common interests for the sake of security.

There are several other issues, related to collective Arab positions, which will require attention of the participants during the Summit. This includes the Middle East peace process that has been delayed due to the intransigence of the Benjamin Netanyahu government and its refusal to abide by the principles and decisions of the peace process. Matters have been made worse due to Iran’s continued interference in internal affairs of many Arab countries. Tehran’s actions run counter to the policy of good neighborliness and international laws and norms, and are contrary to the country’s claim of its desire to improve relations with Arab countries. The challenges facing the region notwithstanding, the Arab Summit is an opportunity to iron out inter-Arab differences, and adopting a unified stand against threats to security, stability and development of Arab countries.