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The New Arab Summit is Old
Tunisians hold the Syrian and Palestinian flags as they demonstrate against the Arab League Summit and the United States recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights in Tunis on March 31. (Photo by Anis Mili/AFP/Getty Images)

The New Arab Summit is Old

Al-Araby al-Jadeed, London, April 3

The recently-concluded Arab League Summit in Tunisia did not differ from any of the preceding summits. It adopted the same speech that accompanies every Arab League meeting: empty promises to the people and a raising of the ceiling of expectations, without any mechanisms or plans to implement or deliver these promises. Still, some summits stand out due to the extenuating political events that unfold in their wake. The summit in Tunis took place just days after US President Donald Trump publicly recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. Yet despite this unprecedented announcement, which serves as a direct insult to the Arab world, the Arab League failed to come up with a unified stance against Israel or the United States. It released a public statement on the matter and announced no tangible steps to combat it on the ground. Sadly, this has become typical of the Arab League. From an organization that unites the Arab world, the League became a toothless organization that can barely generate symbolic statements. This decline in the effectiveness of the organization accelerated since the onset of the 2011 revolutions in the Arab world. Most of the League’s member states are disintegrated states. They face civil war, internal strife or political instability. Only a few Arab countries currently have the luxury of being preoccupied with the general Arab situation. Yet this deterioration in effectiveness is taking place for other reasons, as well. In addition to widespread weakness within the Arab world, Israel’s stance in the region has been on the rise. In less than two decades, Israel has become a legitimate partner in several security, political and economic alliances and arrangements with Arab countries. Some are bilateral while others are multilateral. Regardless, Israel has emerged as a strong ally of Arab nations in the face of a knowingly-aggressive Iran. As a result of this fundamental shift in priorities, Arab consensus on decisions and developments directly related to Israel has been difficult to achieve. The asymmetrical interests that exist among the League’s member states prevents the organization from being an effective player in regional politics. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the only thing the League did in response to Trump’s recognition was to issue a written statement condemning the move. This statement lacked any actual moves or practical steps to reject the American position or push Washington back. In doing so, the Arab League proved once again that it is simply incapable of reacting to real events unfolding on the ground. – Sameh Rashed

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