Tag Archives: Egypt

What Arabs need from the coming Arab summit in Amman

The upcoming Arab Summit in Amman is an important moment for the region. With ongoing crises in Yemen, Libya, Syria and others, the real challenges appear to be within Arab countries themselves. 

One of the major issues is the return of Syria to the Arab League after more than 6 years of crisis in Syria. The political solution seems to be the only option so Arab countries should make the political play to bring Syria back in to play a key role in stabilizing and rebuilding Syria. Past positions of staying out of the solution is no longer an option.

Yemen and Libya are also important issues to be solved under the Arab umbrella. They also need a new way of thinking and repositioning of major Arab countries. Egypt, as the most active Arab country could pave the way for better Arab cooperation, but the Saudi position is still the major indicator of how efficient this Arab effort to solve the crises will be.

Arab countries must understand that the longer the crises endure the worse it is for them. With Saudi concerns about Iranian influence in the region, it is important to review past policies and understand how they may have given Iran more space to influence, especially in the places where crises appears, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and now Yemen.

The sectarian trends cannot be countered by more sectarian polices, Arab Shia in Lebanon, Iraq, Bahrain and Yemen are originally Arabs, but the policies adopted by some Arab countries have pushed many of them closer to Iran and away from Arab leaders. These are important issue to bear in mind when we think of the need to learn from the past and avoid its mistakes. It is important that Arab countries develop new policies that work to unify people rather than dividing them.

For Jordan this summit is critical, as it provides the opportunity to restore the political importance of Jordan as a country involved in these crises and building a new phase of Arab understanding will have positive impacts on Jordan. If this attempt fails then Jordan may find itself alone in facing three major issues, the growing economic crisis, the new phase of combatting terrorism and the risks of a failed peace process. On top of this Jordan could face the end of unity on a two state solution, and the inherent complexities of a one state solution, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

Arab states need to encounter that Israel’s current narrative which is based on a wider regional peace and rather than focusing on the pending peace process with Palestinians. 

The Trump Administration’s positions on the Middle East must also be addressed in the Arab Summit. This includes the future of the peace process and the potential of strong positions from the US in the region if we cannot find a path for ourselves.  Developing a new and effective Arab strategy for de-radicalization and fighting terrorism is one of the key issues that might help in restoring the Arab cooperation process.

There is not much to be optimistic about in the crises facing the Arab world, but we must find an Arab pathway from the grassroots through a new phase of Arab relations, which starts with credible and smart initiatives.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

Suddenly, Palestine back at the top of Arab’s agenda

After many years of distractions and other priorities, Palestinian issues are back on the agenda of some Arab countries. There have been recent confirmations from official source that some Arab countries have been meeting with the Palestinian President in order to press the importance of a united Fatah movement.  These reports raise curious questions as to the source and reasons behind the sudden interest from these Arab countries to ensure the unity of Fatah.

During the so-called Arab Spring years, there have been two allied groups competing for influence in order to implement their version of a resolution in Palestine. On one side were Qatar, Hamas and Turkey, while the other saw a coalition of Jordan, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The settlement of the Palestinian conflict and its impact on the nature of the Arab peace initiative was the key point of conflict between these two groupings, and it seems that conflict is once again flaring up.

Recently, many observers have reported activity between Jordan, Egypt and Saudi with declared and undeclared visits to coordinate positions between the block and the Palestinian authority. This recent diplomatic activism suggests the issue is reaching a decisive point, with two current matters to address. 

The first is the unity of the Fatah movement by ending conflict amongst its members, and the second is to postpone the municipality elections that President Abbas has called for against the wishes of most of his supporters, including those in the Fatah movement.

The delay in these elections is important to the Jordan-Egypt-Saudi block as it is expected that Hamas would have massive wins in the West Bank, which would add to its current power base in Gaza. Meanwhile, a potential Turkey-Israel agreement, which is reportedly being negotiated, could include development and rebuilding of Gaza.

The new Palestinian reality includes Hamas’ strong presence in the West Bank, and after the university elections where Hamas won overwhelmingly, the municipality elections would be the second stage toward the domination of West Bank by Hamas. This also foreshadows the expected positioning from Turkey as an integral player in Palestine pushing out other power brokers in the region, and potentially leading to negative impacts for them from any coming settlement.

The activation of the Quartet on the Middle East and the pressure put on the Palestinian President Abbas can be interpreted as Arab attempts to contain the current Palestinian situation, with increased Turkish influence in Palestine. This is not limited to cooperation with Hamas nor just to Gaza. The West Bank and the custody of holy places is a live issue, especially with the increasingly limited power and influence of Arab countries in Palestine.

As the situation develops, the likelihood of a deeper conflict over the Palestinian issue. Common ground between the two blocks is almost impossible so the conflict can only increase from here and could shift and change along the way.

Dr Amer Al Sabaileh