Syria, Palestine, Iran to be key issues at Arab Summit Wednesday

The crisis in Syria, the Palestinian issue and Iran’s claimed interference in the region will be key issues at this week’s Arab League summit.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia and other Arab leaders and diplomats will participate in the March 29 Arab Summit, which will also be attended by UN Secretary-General António Guterres and the UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Jordan’s government spokesperson and Minister of Information Mohammed Momani held a press conference on Saturday, in which he said that Mistura will attend the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting on Tuesday, adding that the UN official will brief the meeting on the latest developments in the Geneva talks between the Syrian regime and opposition representatives.

Momani also said the Arab Summit will host representatives from Russia, the US and France, with officials from those countries set to meet their Arab counterparts.

Momani referenced the fact that several Arab states have been hit by terrorism, including Jordan and Saudi Arabia, adding that the Arab states are requested to rally their efforts to stand in the face of this epidemic.

“Our response to terrorism must be in kind. We have to face it not only militarily, but also ideologically and present the right image of Islam, which (is a) faith of tolerance and moderation,” he said.

The summit is expected to discuss pressing issues, including the Palestinian cause, the Syrian crisis and Iran’s involvement in Arab affairs, as well as other serious developments taking place in the region.

Tareq Momani, editor in chief of the Al Rai newspaper and president of the Jordan Press Association, told Arab News that the summit is being held amid serious challenges facing the Arab region.

“Arab unity is an issue of paramount importance that will be discussed during the meeting. Serious subjects will be on the table for discussion, including the Palestinian cause and Israel’s ongoing violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, the Iranian intervention and meddling in Arab affairs, and above all, the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on the neighboring countries, in terms of the number of refugees who fled the violence,” Momani said.

The summit aims to rekindle the ambitions and hopes of the Arab people who have been living in desperation due to the violence in several countries, Momani said.

The permanent delegates of the Arab League on Saturday met and agreed draft resolutions to be raised for discussion by the Arab foreign ministers as they embark on Monday’s preparatory meeting of the Arab Summit.

Among the most important draft resolutions to be drawn up is one on the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the developments in Jerusalem, the Israeli settlements and segregation wall, according to a statement distributed by the summit’s organizing committee.

The draft also includes the issue of refugees and the efforts by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to alleviate the suffering of the refugees, as well as support for the host countries and for the Palestinian Authority’s budget.

The permanent representatives will also discuss developments in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.

Discussions on Iran’s occupation of three islands in the Arabian Gulf — the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa — and the claimed Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries will figure prominently on the agenda of talks.

Delegates are set to adopt a draft resolution stressing the Arab position on Turkish forces’ alleged violation of Iraqi sovereignty, a draft reaffirming the need to maintain Arab national security and continue the fight against terrorism, and a draft resolution on the proposed periodic Arab-European summit.

Samih Maaytah, former Jordanian minister of information and government spokesperson, told Arab News that an Arab consensus on critical issues is a key concern of the summit.

These issues include the Syrian crisis and the need for a political solution to the war, as well as Iran’s activities in some Arab states.

“Those two files are rather controversial, as there are some countries that believe that Syrian President Bashar Assad must not have a role in any political settlement to the Syrian crisis. With regard to Iran, there are some countries that still enjoy warm relationship with Tehran, which might pose an obstacle to taking a strong position to curb Iranian expansionist ideologies,” Maaytah said.

He added that the Palestinian cause must once again be made a top priority for Arab discussions, due to the stance taken by the new US administration.