Saturday, May 20, 2023

The 32nd Arab summit in Jeddah: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Earlier Friday, the Arab leaders as well as their representatives held the 32nd meeting of the Arab summit in Jeddah.

To cut things short, nothing is expected to change due to this summit just like the other summits, but two things happened on Friday.

Bashar El-Assad had a warm welcome from most of his Arab counterparts. 

Despite the Western warnings, the Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates support the return of El-Assad and his regime to the Arab League with no regard for whatever happened to the Syrian people in the past 12 years.

The 32nd Arab Summit in Jeddah's leaders
The 32nd Arab Summit in Jeddah's leaders

El-Assad gave one of those speeches cursing the immoral West, Muslim Brotherhood Turkey and Israel that is being ignored in the Arab world according to him “Man, I remembered how I used to admire his long speeches in the summit in the first years of his rule, how naïve I was.”

Also, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy came to Jeddah and addressed the summit. Zelenskyy spoke about the Ukrainian Muslims.

I do not know if he realized that in front of him El-Assad who officially committed war crimes against his own people, mostly Muslims has been received like a hero.

The Saudi media is trying to position the Arab summit in Jeddah as the “Reconciliation” summit because of the reinstatement of Syria to the League of Arab Summit and the participation of Bashar El-Assad in the summit.

Yet with a closer look, there are very interesting absences that can’t be ignored and show how fragile that “joint Arab work” is.

The President of the United Arab Emirates Mohamed bin Zayed aka MBZ did not come, he sent the vice-president, his son.

It is another clear evidence of the ongoing rivalry between MBZ and MBS. MBZ wants to lead the Arab world just like MBS. It is not about Arab world leadership but also it is about the ongoing economic rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Jeddah and Riyadh began to attract foreign investors from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The Kuwait Emir did not come too but it is not a surprise because he is already old. Sultan Haitham bin Tariq of Oman did not participate in the summit and sent his crown prince. He is not that old.

Haitham is already going to visit Cairo on Sunday, so I do not understand why he did not spend a couple of hours in Jeddah.

King of Morocco Mohamed VI did not come too nor did his nemesis the President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune despite his country handing over the presidency of the summit to Saudi Arabia in this session. Some say that both men did not go to the summit to avoid seeing each other.

Sudan’s leader Abdel-Fattah El-Burhan is busy fighting his ex-deputy and so he did not come.

Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim did not stay for more than a couple of hours and left Jeddah for Doha wishing everyone good luck in a small statement before the start of El-Assad's speech. 

Already he had a little drama when the official Syrian News agency claimed that he welcomed Bashar El-Assad but a video released by Qatari accounts shows that the Gulf leader ignored El-Assad. 

Needless to say, no one has even cared to say that the King of Saudi Arabia himself Salman bin Abdel-Aziz did not show up at all. This says a lot about how his health is.

The recommendations were issued by the end of the summit and no one in the Arab world I believe is concerned enough to know what they are. 

To be honest that this is the usual thing to expect when it comes to the Arab summits.

Now to all those who are feeling sad and down on how the Arab leaders welcomed warmly El-Assad back and feel that it was an epic defeat to the Arab Spring, please do not be sad.

Since when was the Arab League or were the Arab summits representing the Arab People!? The Arab League represents only the Arab governments and regimes but not the Arab people. The Arab summits represent the Arab leaders and not the Arab leaders.

The Arab Spring was defeated in the past decade despite it got rid of strongmen we had never imagined would disappear whether Mubarak or Qaddafi or Ali Abdullah Saleh or Ben Ali or lately Omar El-Bashir.

Yes, Bashar El-Assad is still there but we forget also that he was the youngest among the leaders in that Arab Spring wave. Also, El-Assad has the support of Russia and Iran.

Now one looks at the Arab world, we can safely say that the same reasons and causes that led to the Arab Spring in the first place still exist and things even got worse to the level I fear an Arab winter for real.

The Arab League and its summits will continue to be useless as long as it is a league of governments and not the people.

The Arab summits and the Arab League should have a “curb your enthusiasm” outro with its music for real.

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