Arab leaders, grappling regional rifts, condemn US decision on Golan

Saudi Royal Palace on March 31 shows Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz speaking with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi during the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis. — AFP

Saudi Royal Palace on March 31 shows Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz speaking with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi during the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis. — AFP

"There is very little intention to come up with very clear outcomes other than the usual discourse of establishing the Palestine right and the general Arab stance on regional issues", Majed al-Ansari, professor of political sociology at Qatar University, told Al Jazeera.

Iraq's President Barham Salih, left, walks next of his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi, right, as they review the honor guard upon his arrival at Tunis-Carthage global airport to attend the Arab Summit, in Tunis, Tunisia, Saturday, March 30, 2019.

Trump's Golan decision followed a US move less than four months ago to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision that also drew Arab condemnation. He said that the interventions of Iran and Turkey in the affairs of a number of Arab countries exacerbated the crises and kept them away from the solution.

"On Yemen, we stress here our support for the United Nations' efforts to reach a political solution to the crisis in Yemen and we urge the global community to work hard against the Houthi militias and against Iranian intervention", he said.

"We reiterate our categorical rejection of measures that would undermine Syrian sovereignty over the Golan", King Salman said.

Mr Guterres also said any resolution in the Syrian conflict must guarantee the territorial integrity of Syria over the Golan Heights.

Khmeiry appeared to be referring to a still-unannounced U.S. peace plan by White House adviser Jared Kushner and Trump son-in-law that Palestinians have refused to discuss.

While opposition to Israel and its actions can unite the 22-member Arab League, Arab states remain divided over a range of other issues, including pro-democracy protests that have erupted in the region since 2011 and over Iran's Middle East influence. Others have cautioned against rejecting a deal that has not yet been fully revealed.

Representatives from the 22-member league - minus Syria - aim to jointly condemn President Donald Trump's recognition of Israeli control over the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 war, and Trump's decision past year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said Saturday that Arab ministers had voiced support in a preparatory meeting for a declaration that Trump's Golan move violates the U.N. Charter, which prohibits acquiring territories by force.

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Only 13 Arab leaders are attending the one-day summit.

Unrest in Algeria and Sudan will also be on the agenda and the civil war in Yemen, now in its fifth year, will feature prominently during the discussions.

Ibrahim al-Assaf, foreign minister of Sunni Muslim powerhouse Saudi Arabia, said on Friday that Shi'ite Muslim rival Iran remained the biggest threat to the region.

The leaders of Sudan and Algeria were not at Sunday's meeting as both nations have been roiled by anti-government protests.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt accuse Qatar of supporting terrorism and say it has been cosying up to Iran, a charge Doha denies.

This is the first summit that brings together the Emir of Qatar, Saudi King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi since Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Manama chose to boycott Doha.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria's ailing 82-year-old president who has ruled for 20 years, and Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir, in power for three decades and wanted by worldwide prosecutors for alleged war crimes in his country's Darfur region, are both facing calls to step down.

He also welcomed efforts towards a peaceful and democratic transition in Algeria "that addresses the concerns of the Algerian people in a timely way".

The pan-Arab bloc froze Syria's membership in 2011 over a bloody government crackdown on protesters.

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