INTERVIEW: AL chief says Algeria summit important 'Arab reunion' in face of challenges

MENA , Monday 31 Oct 2022

Arab League (AL) Secretary General Ahmed Abul-Gheit said Monday that an upcoming summit in Algeria would be akin to an Arab reunion in the face of challenges, pressures and threats.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul-Gheit
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul-Gheit


Speaking in an interview with MENA board chairman and editor in chief Ali Hassan ahead of the Algeria summit, slated for Tuesday, Abul-Gheit called it an important get-together in a bid to resolve tensions and find common grounds regarding the different regional files.

He expected the summit to come out with resolutions to further support the Palestinian people in their struggle for independence.

It is a regular summit and its agenda includes all traditional political files on which resolutions should be made to define collective Arab stances, the AL chief said.

Topping the agenda is the Palestinian cause, he noted.

The summit will also discuss the crises in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon, Abul-Gheit added.

Regional interference in Arab domestic affairs will also figure high at the summit, he further said.

The summit in Algeria will also focus on top-priority issues in the current stage, atop of which an Arab strategy to achieve food security, which aims to narrow the growing food gap through a collective and comprehensive action, Abul-Gheit added.

Asked why it is an “Arab reunion” summit, the AL chief said that this is the goal of each get-together, believing the current stage entails removing all reasons of tensed relations among Arab countries, which should rather act to find, at least, the minimum common grounds regarding the different files.

“Consensus is a precious goal that must be pursued by all means,” he noted.

According to Abul-Gheit, the Arab summit is the most important mechanism of the system of joint Arab action. It is the Arab summit that sets up general strategies and outlines an overall vision, thus leading to an effective Arab action, he explained.

The Arab summit is important because it reaches resolutions that reflect collective Arab stances toward Arab crises, such as in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon, the AL chief told MENA board chairman.

The Arab resolutions give big room for intervention to solve such crises that sure take much of Arab strength and create loopholes for regional parties, such as Iran, to interfere and control, Abul-Gheit noted.

The AL chief said he visited Algeria several times to prepare for the summit in coordination with the different authorities there. The summit in Algeria is expected to issue a resolution to support Lebanon amid fears of consequences of the presidential vacuum in the Arab country, Abul-Gheit made it clear.

“Lebanon, from our point of view, cannot possibly bear such vacuum in light of the enormous challenges it faces and the crushing economic crisis that citizens suffer from.”

Asked about the situation in Libya, the AL chief said the pan-Arab body is in contact with all international and regional parties concerned, particularly the UN, to reach a solution to the problem in Libya. The AL is also working with the different Libyan factions in a bid to stop the violence and resume a serious dialogue to agree on a constitution to conduct the elections that had been delayed in December, Abul-Gheit added.

He lauded efforts exerted by some Arab countries, such as Egypt, to help bring the Libyan parties to the negotiating table.

“Our goal is to maintain the unity of Libya and act to unify its security and political institutions, and to prevent the aggravation of division.” 

The Arab Summit in Algeria will convene with a vacant Syria seat as an agreement is yet to be reached about Syria’s return to the AL, Abul-Gheit told MENA board chairman.

“A consensus is needed about that matter because we don’t want Syria’s return to be a controversial issue among Arab countries.”

Sadly, the Syrian crisis is still prevailing for more than a decade now, the AL chief said, adding that it is the Syrian people who pay the price, whether at home or abroad. The situation is greatly deteriorating in all parts of Syria, which is now divided to different areas of influence controlled by foreign powers, Abul-Gheit regretted.

“I clearly say that this constitutes a big threat to Arab national security,” he stressed, insisting on the need to maintain Syrian soil, sovereignty and independence without any foreign interference in its affairs or infiltrations into its land.

Unfortunately, some parties are making use of the crisis in Syria and acting to prolong it, Abul-Gheit noted.

He reminded of repercussions of the Syrian crisis for neighboring states in terms of the flow of refugees and spread of terrorism.That’s why it is important that the Arab world continue to act to settle the Syrian crisis through a collective stance that shall be announced during the summit in Algeria, the AL chief said. 

Speaking about the end of the truce in Yemen, Abul Gheit said this is a negative development that is only blamed on the Houthi group.

Clearly, the Houthi group used the truce to strengthen its military position and to prepare for attacks on Taiz and Marib, the AL chief could tell.

The Houthis are using the suffering of the Yemeni people as a card in negotiations, paying no attention to the scary humanitarian, economic and health deterioration across the Arab country, Abul Gheit charged. They are not making decisions independently, rather implementing an agenda set up by Iran, he noted.

The legitimate Yemeni government, to the contrary, was very flexible and honored all terms of the truce over the past months, Abul Gheit said.

Asked about the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and its negative impact on food supplies to the Arab world, Abul Gheit told MENA board chairman that an Arab food security strategy is one of the most important topics that should be endorsed by the summit in Algeria.

The situation of global food security is very worrisome, the AL chief said. This year witnessed soaring food prices, Abul Gheit said, warning of another crisis in terms of securing foodstuffs next year due to the unrest at factories of fertilizers.

The Arab world is suffering from a great food gap, he acknowledged, calling for unified Arab potentials to boost Arab food security in line with a clear, comprehensive and long-term strategy.

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