| 10 December 2023, Sunday |

Jeddah summit: Collective confrontation of future challenges

The Saudi coastal city of Jeddah will host on Friday the 32nd regular Arab League summit amid high hopes that its outcomes will reflect positively on several pending issues.

The agenda will focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the crisis in Sudan, Syria’s return to the Arab League and Arab relations with neighboring countries.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz will address the gatherers in his opening remarks. Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, will be at the opening. Saudi Arabia had assumed the presidency of the summit from Algeria.

Officials and experts described as “historic” the Jeddah summit, saying it boasts all factors for its success even before it has been held. They cited Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure that it will be successful, noting the reinstatement of Syria’s membership in the League, the intra-Sudanese talks in Jeddah and historic reconciliations that have been achieved with neighboring regional countries, specifically Türkiye and Iran.

Lebanon’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Fawzi Kabbara said the Jeddah summit is a “beacon of hope for the Arabs, and Lebanon in specific.”

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he added: “We have high hopes from the summit and from the reconciliations that have been achieved, significantly with Syria’s return.”

“We hope this will reflect positively on Lebanon,” he went on to say.

“Saudi Arabia has always taken the initiative. We commend the excellent organization of the summit and thank the Saudi leadership for bringing together all Arab leaders,” he stressed.

President Bashar al-Assad is heading Syria’s delegation at the summit after a 12-year absence when Damascus was suspended in wake of the conflict in the country.

Earlier this week, Syria’s Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Sousan told Asharq Al-Awsat that “everyone is hoping that the Jeddah summit will pave the way for a new phase” in the Arab world.

Founder and Chairman of the Jeddah-based Gulf Research Center Dr. Abdulaziz Sager said the summit was “historic in every meaning of the word.”

He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “All elements for its success are available given Saudi Arabia’s efforts to that end.”

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed have set the foundations that will ensure the success of the summit,” he added.

He credited the Kingdom’s efforts for reinstating Syria’s membership, holding the Sudanese talks in Jeddah aimed at delivering aid to the people, and holding historic reconciliations with Türkiye and Iran.

Saudi political analyst Dr. Khaled Batarfi stressed that good planning was the secret behind Arab consensus on the majority of files that will be discussed at the summit.

He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “excellent preparation has become a hallmark of Saudi policy. This was witnessed during its presidency of the G20 and now observed with Syria’s return to the Arab League and in all files that are being overseen by the Kingdom, such as Yemen, Sudan and the Saudi-Iranian agreement to reestablish diplomatic ties.”

Batarfi said Syria’s return to the Arab fold has given hope that the Jeddah summit will be an unprecedented success. Moreover, he added that all thorny files have been addressed on the bilateral level or through group meetings.

He noted the Arab drive to resolve intra-Arab disputes, citing efforts to form a united front that rejects foreign meddling in Arab internal affairs.

“If we achieve this, then we would have arrived at a solution to one of the greatest hurdles impeding collective Arab work,” he remarked.

“Syria’s return, which was arranged by Saudi Arabia, is a rectification of a situation where Syria was left vulnerable to several forms of foreign meddling, from the region and abroad. Now is the time to correct the situation and Syria has returned to the Arab fold,” he stressed.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat