Arab summit 24 hours after Western strikes in Syria

Ⓒ AFP – GIUSEPPE CACACE – | Meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers on April 12, 2018 in Riyadh to prepare the Arab annual summit scheduled for Sunday in Saudi Arabia

Twenty-four hours after Western strikes against Syria, Saudi Arabia hosts Sunday the annual summit of members of the Arab League which should also discuss Iran, Yemen and the future of Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia has succeeded Jordan as the rotating presidency of this 22-member organization. It should work for a hard and unified position vis-à-vis Iran, its main rival in the Middle East, experts say.

Ryad and Tehran have been involved in proxy conflicts for years, from Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

The Arab summit meets 24 hours after the United States, the United Kingdom and France launched targeted strikes against the power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, allied with Iran and Russia, in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack against a rebel enclave.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which have been facing a 10-month crisis over alleged Doha support for extremist groups, have both supported Western military action.

This type of meeting rarely leads to concrete actions. The last time the Arab League, created in 1945, took a strong decision dates back to 2011, when it suspended Syria because of the responsibilities of its president in the war.

Ⓒ AFP – GIUSEPPE CACACE – | Photo of UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura taken on April 12, 2018 in Riyadh on the sidelines of a preparatory meeting of the Arab summit held in Saudi Arabia on Sunday

Damascus will not be represented at the summit on Sunday.

– “Riposte aux crimes” –

King Salman of Saudi Arabia will chair the meeting, which is being held in the eastern city of Dhahran, about 200 kilometers from the Iranian coast.

The Syrian conflict, certainly the most complex in the region, unites Ryad and his allies, who support mainly Sunni rebels. Iran and its Shiite ally Hezbollah Lebanese are engaged alongside the regime power of Mr. Assad.

Saudi Arabia has given its “full support” to Saturday’s strikes, which it says constitute “a response to the crimes” of Damascus.

Qatar, which has confirmed its participation in the summit despite its disputes with Ryad, has supported the Saudi meaning by justifying Western action “against specific military targets used by the Syrian regime in its chemical attacks.”

On Yemen, Ryad continues to denounce the increasing use of “Iranian” drones and missiles, fired on its territory by Houthi rebels, masters of the capital Sana’a and northern areas bordering Saudi Arabia.

Ryad, who has been intervening militarily in Yemen since 2015 in support of the internationally recognized government, will certainly seek to mobilize its partners against what she describes as Iran’s “direct aggression”, which she claims to have sophisticated equipment in the Houthis. experts. Iran denies supporting the Houthi militarily.

The future of Jerusalem is also on the agenda of the Arab summit, as the United States prepares to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv after recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Ⓒ AFP – GIUSEPPE CACACE – | Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki speaks to the press on April 12, 2018 in Riyadh on the sidelines of a preparatory meeting of the annual Arab summit

In early April, the 82-year-old Saudi king “reaffirmed the kingdom’s steadfast stance on the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as the capital.”

But his son, the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aged 32, believed that the Israelis also had the “right” to have their own state, sending a new signal of strategic rapprochement with Israel, which, like Ryad, considers Tehran his “pet peeve”.

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