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Arab League Summit Under Clouds Of Discord

NGOWatch

April 11, 2006

The League of Arab States (informally called the "Arab League") began its 18th Arab League Summit today in Khartoum, Sudan under clouds of discord. The rulers of eight member states, including Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, are absent from the Summit. (http://www.debka.org/article.php?aid=1152)

A major issue of discord is the continuing crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan. Sudan has forbidden international intervention. (http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-03-28-voa16.cfm)

Other areas of disagreement include member states lukewarm treatment of the newly formed Iraqi government and support for the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. According to reports, there have been fierce arguments between Iraqi interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and his counterparts over the apparent lack of support for the new Iraqi government by other member states, many of whom have not sent an ambassador to Iraq. (http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-arab27mar27,1,2920660.story?coll=la-news-a_section)

Arab support for Hamas is less divided, though not popular with more moderate leaders. The Arab League renewed its pledge of $50M in aide per month to the Palestinian Authority. (http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-arab27mar27,1,2920660.story?coll=la-news-a_section)

However, according to DEBKAfile's report, Arab leaders did not invite the newly elected, Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority because of pressure from the United States. (http://www.debka.org/article.php?aid=1152)

Summit resolutions must be unanimous, which may cause problems in the future when Hamas will have to be included. (http://www.debka.org/article.php?aid=1152)

One issue on which the Arab League appears to agree is support for internationally-sponsored road map peace plan. (http://www.debka.org/article.php?aid=1152)

With the absence of so many key leaders, though, one wonders how much influence the Arab League Summit can expect to have on the events currently shaping the Middle East and the world.