Challenges, threats facing Arab countries today are many, great and dangerous: Egypt's former FM Amr Moussa

Doaa A.Moneim , Tuesday 1 Feb 2022

The challenges and threats facing the countries of the Arab world today are many, great and dangerous, said Egypt’s former foreign affairs minister Amr Moussa, commenting on the consultative meeting of the Arab foreign ministers in Kuwait.

Foreign ministers of Arab League states
Kuwait s Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah (C-R) alongside Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (C-L) and the foreign ministers of Arab League states posing for a group photo during a group meeting in Kuwait City on January 30, 2022. AFP

During a phone-in with Saudi 24 channel on Monday, Moussa said that such extraordinary meeting was needed so that Arab officials could sit down to talk together, and if there were different points of view, they could work to reconcile them, such as the issue of defining common Arab priorities in the face of the dangers that surround the Arabs.

Moussa stated that “there is a great dispersion in the Arab world, and there is a difference of priorities,” adding that some Arab countries see danger from a regional country, and others see danger from another country. “Consequently, the Arab national security itself, which the Arabs have long talked about, has become controversial.”

This requires returning to agreeing on priorities and risks, not just the traditional risks that the region has faced and is still facing, Egypt’s former top diplomat said.

Moussa gave the example of the Palestinian cause, whose importance and priority cannot be denied, regardless of other priorities that have their own logic, and that it remains a central issue for the Arab peoples.

He emphasised that the traditional problems differed in priorities. This requires many meetings, not one. It is not required to be public or comprehensive, but what is required is a set of meetings and committees to discuss Arab concerns and issues of cooperation and to formulate a common vision and approach to Arab national security.

Moussa also explained that there are major problems that follow, which go beyond the traditional political and security problems to existential problems, referring to the problems of climate change and epidemics that impose regional and Arab cooperation.

Moreover, he stressed during the phone call that there are foundations from which we can re-start and coordinate among ourselves in the face of epidemics and climate change and its real and dangerous effects, which are beginning to become clear even to the ordinary citizen.

Moussa stressed the importance of the Arab League as a real necessity for Arab countries, and that “it is not right for us to give up on it as Arabs, and if we want to build a new building, we must start building it before we think about replacing the Arab League.”

He believes that “we should follow the example of international researchers who study the fate of the United Nations, which is under great attack because of its failure in more than one field.”

“However, research centers and political centers operating at the international level are unanimously agreed that the United Nations needs to renew and reconsider its performance, not its existence. And that this is what the Arab nation needs as it looks to the fate of its Arab League,” he said.

Arab League’s challenges

During the phone call, Moussa noted that the umbrella of the Arab League must be supported, at a time when its Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that “more than half of the contributions of member states do not come, and there is a kind of lack of interest in the League and the prevention of important funding for it to be active, move and work.”

The former foreign minister expressed hope that these behind-the-scenes meetings and consultations will push the members' contributions and states' obligations towards the League so that it can work for the sake of renewing its youth and serving Arab issues as an independent figure based on the establishment of Arab solidarity and Arab integration, as well as the maintenance of Arab security.

He continued by saying that Arab security itself has become a question mark today. “What is meant by it? And who is threatening us? Is it one, two or more? Who threatens our security in the traditional sense? Who threatens our security in the evolving sense? Where is the Arabic subtraction? Where is the Arab participation in drawing the new picture of the world with the presence of new active regions and new areas of tension, and there are many countries in the world that contribute to the discussion about the future of the world and its political system, and we must contribute to that.”

Moussa further stressed the need for regimes and Arab countries to understand that good governance is the key.

He defined good governance, saying that it means the rule of law and the constitution, it means giving people hope for a better future by fighting poverty and backwardness, achieving progress and spreading comfort among people, and that there is a difference between the atmosphere of the 20th and 21st centuries. The governance that addresses the concerns of the citizen with real projects, not just speeches and slogans, is the beginning of calm and stability for the Arab peoples.

Moussa directed his words to the new generations, calling on them not to disbelieve in Arab nationalism, which has proven its existence among peoples who saw what was happening in a village in southern Tunisia in the Maghreb as diseases that afflicted them as well.

Moussa concluded his statements by saying that “the Iranian regional policy, as we see its impact on a number of Arab countries, is a policy that does not please anyone, and it is not correct to accept what is happening in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, as well as the recent attacks against a number of Arab countries.”

“There are mistakes that must be talked about with the Iranians, and the Arabs should speak directly without the presence of a mediator,” he noted.

With regard to the Iranian nuclear program, Moussa said the Arab countries must renew their demand for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the entire Middle East, and to not accept any nuclear weapons in the region, and “in order to speak logically, this must include the Israeli nuclear force as well.”

Therefore, the title should change to freeing the Middle East from nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, whether Iranian or Israeli, he said.

“We should not accept the Iranian nuclear program, and we are not afraid to say that there is another nuclear program, the Israeli one, and we are not talking here about Israel in the sense of the opponent or the enemy of Palestine, but we are talking about a state in the region that has a nuclear program that is not consistent with the foundations of the security of the region and what is happening to everyone in this regard,” he said.

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