Arab League Summit 2018: Syria, Iran and Al Quds

For some time now, we have been hearing the drums of war, from the tweets of Trump.

And, angered at the April 7 chemical attack on the civilians of the Syrian town of Douma, US President Trump had ordered air-strikes on Syria.

On Saturday, 14 April, with its allies UK and France,  US targeted sites near Damascus and Homs, bringing us to a new turn, in the seven-year old Syrian crisis.

Interestingly, these strikes occurred just 24 hours before the Arab League Summit 2018 was set to open in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on Sunday, 15 April.  This 29th Arab Summit is also being called the “Al-Quds Summit” or “Jerusalem Summit”.

Though originally scheduled to be held in Riyadh – where a preliminary meeting was held on Thursday – the venue for the summit has been moved to King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, of  Saudi Aramco, in Dhahran.

So, as I write this, in Dhahran, some 77 kms away from Manama, the leaders of the Arab world are discussing crucial matters related to the region.

Almost all Arab League members have approved US strikes on Syria.

It is pertinent to note, here, that Syria has been suspended from the 22-nation Arab League, since 2011.

And this year, according to the latest report by Reuters, Qatar too will not be represented by any senior official at this Summit.

So, in effect, there would be 20 countries discussing the complex problems that the Arab region is currently facing, and the possible solutions to some of them.

While Iran and Syria are top items on the agenda, it is clear that among other things, they would all surely condemn US decision to recognise Jerusalem (Al Quds) as the capital of Israel.

At this ongoing Arab League summit, on behalf of Bahrain, His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa gave the keynote address hailing the courageous and supportive Arab stances and condemning all foreign interference in Bahrain’s sovereign internal affairs.

Our king has stressed the importance of pan-Arab co-operation to protect Arab countries’ security and stability and to stave off external interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

And quite rightly so. On the one hand, Iran’s interference in the internal affairs, of not only Bahrain but also of countries like Yemen, have caused incalculable loss of lives and property. And on the other hand, Syrian situation is becoming more and more complex because of the active involvement of many foreign forces.

Bahrain’s diplomatic stance of supporting US strikes on Syria is, needless to say, a direct consequence of Russian and Iranian  support to the Syrian regime.

It  is tragic that the Arab League, UN, and various other International organizations are unable to lead a movement that can effectively address and end this Syrian conflict.

The resignation, or the removal, of  Bashar al-Assad, seems to be the only viable solution according to many heads of states and political analysts.

But with Russian support, only a firm action by the US can make Syria yield itself to a peaceful solution. Only a coalition offensive seems likely to help in the transition of the country’s ruling power.

GCC Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani had said that Saturday’s US missile strikes are sending a direct message to the Syrian regime. His statement that countries in the world will not keep silent when they see Syria using chemical weapons in attacks on Syrian civilians, is a welcome statement.

Even though, after the strikes, Trump had tweeted “Mission Accomplished”, we all know one thing. That the tweet was only referring to the strikes and not to any solution to the Syrian Crises.

A sustainable solution is far from being accomplished. Very very Far.