The results of the Amman summit

Sunday 02/04/2017

For a septuagenarian, the Arab League seems to be in pretty good health. It had its annual meeting punctually, delivered pertinent assessments of the problems beset­ting the region and steadfastly recalled its 15-year-old offer of a comprehensive peace plan for the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.

Some might say that is a lot of talk and no action but it is good going nevertheless. Just convening summits during the last few years was no easy task. The turnout at last year’s summit in Nouak­chott, Mauritania, was worrisomely low: Only one-third of the 22 members attended.

Not this time. This past week’s summit in Jordan was extraordinar­ily well-attended. Syria has been suspended since 2011 but the other 21 members of the Arab League were present. A consensus on com­mon Arab concerns appears to be emerging, which may be the first sign we are entering the post-“Arab spring” era.

This means an exhausted, embattled region is finally uniting, even if perforce, to push shared goals of stability and peace.

The summit offered pertinent diagnoses of the fundamental problems in the region, not least “interference” by regional and international powers. Iran was diplomatically left unnamed but the Arab League was right to call out its aggressively sectarian policies of destabilisation across the region.

While pragmatically expressing the will to work with the new US Trump administration, Arab leaders stressed the need for a global commitment to a new era of regional peace, starting with the long-overdue settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The summit re-emphasised the need to use the 2002 Arab Peace Plan as a starting point towards comprehensive settlement based on a two-state solution.

Then there was the wish list: Ending bloodshed in much of the region, tackling 29% youth unemployment and providing succour to the millions of refugees and displaced.

Cynics might say the summit was the usual venue for empty talk by disconnected politicians. For many outside the summit venue, it seemed that Arab politicians could offer very few tangible solutions to the Syrian conflict, to the bloody war in Yemen and the Islamic State’s malevolent spread through many parts of the Arab world.

There is merit in the fact that Arab leaders were able to meet. Yet, ordinary Arabs will be watching to see what they eventually make of their meeting. Marking the 100th issue of The Arab Weekly

This is the 100th issue of The Arab Weekly, a milestone for this young newspaper. We have come a long way since we launched in April 2015. We have grown into a newspaper of opinion and analysis about the Arab world published from the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Our editors and writers do much to keep us on target every week but it is our loyal readers who are our strength. We invite comments and suggestions on what you want to read as we look forward to the next hundred issues — and beyond.