A long history of consultations, deliberations, and transformations was celebrated by the Arab summits, some of which engraved their history in the pages of joint Arab action, while others passed unnoticed in the Arab memory. Over the course of eight decades, Arab leaders held 46 summits, including 31 regular and 15 emergency summits, in addition to 4 Arab economic and development summits.
The wheel of the Arab summits in the founding contract turned slowly, and the records of the Arab League do not recognize the Alexandria summit in May 1946, which was held at the invitation of King Farouk I of Egypt, in the presence of the seven founding countries of the Arab League, namely Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Transjordan, and Yemen. And Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, as the first summit. Indeed, the counting of Arab summits begins after a full decade, specifically from the 1956 summit, which was hosted by the Lebanese capital, Beirut. To support Egypt against the tripartite aggression, calling for standing by it against this aggression, and affirming its sovereignty over the Suez Canal.
Filtering the Arab atmosphere
Arab leaders waited for the next 6 years to hold their next summit in Cairo in 1964, which historians consider “a historic shift in the course of joint Arab action.” It is remarkable that that year witnessed two Arab summits, the first emergency hosted by Cairo in January, while the city of Alexandria hosted the second summit in September of the same year.
Dr. Ahmed Youssef Ahmed, professor of political science and former dean of the Arab Research Institute of the League of Arab States, stops before the 1964 Cairo Summit, as one of the most influential Arab summits in his estimation of the liquidation of the Arab atmosphere. He points out that that period was filled with an unprecedented state of Arab-Arab conflicts, as there was Arab resentment against the policies of the Iraqi regime wishing to annex Kuwait, in addition to Egyptian-Syrian resentment after the 1961 separation, and Egyptian-Saudi disparity against the background of the events of the Yemeni revolution. , in addition to an Algerian-Moroccan armed clash due to border disputes, and at the same time, Israel’s projects to divert the course of the Jordan River accelerated.
In his interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Ahmed observes that “the course of that summit witnessed the raising of the chiefs of staff of the Arab armies as a result of their leaders stating their inability to deal with Israeli projects at that time; This necessitated the convening of an emergency summit attended by all Arab leaders, with the exception of the King of Libya, who sent his crown prince.
The summit had a role in developing alternative Arab projects to confront the Israeli projects, in addition to remarkably clearing the air between the Arab countries, and forming a joint Arab military leadership. The “legitimate representative” of the Palestinian people.
Summit of the “Three Nos”
While the Arab summits were held annually, the Arab memory may retain a special memory of the Khartoum Summit in August 1967, or the “Three No’s Summit: No Peace, No Recognition, No Negotiation,” as it was famous in Arab history.
Dr. Ahmed recalls the atmosphere accompanying that summit, indicating that it was held at a very precise time following the “fatal defeat” of the Arab armies in June 1967, and that summit witnessed an Egyptian-Saudi agreement to resolve the conflict in Yemen.
Among the remarkable decisions at that summit was also the decision to provide the countries of Saudi Arabia, Libya and Kuwait with significant financial support to the countries of confrontation with Israel, which Ahmed considers “an extremely significant and important event for the Arab national security system.” Arab contradictions have receded, and the common national goal emerged to remove the effects of aggression. The first supporter of the confrontation states were countries governed by monarchical regimes that some have long promoted as contradictory to the confrontation states, especially Egypt and Syria.
Three years later, the Arabs were on a date with what a professor of political science at Cairo University describes as “the fastest Arab summit in history.” The time difference between the invitation to it and its convening did not exceed 24 hours. As the Cairo Summit was held in September 1970 amid extremely dangerous circumstances as a result of the clash between the Jordanian authorities and the Palestinian resistance, and that summit contributed to “drawing a red line regarding the clash between any Arab country and the resistance,” and ended with a decision to cease-fire, and witnessed in Its conclusion is the departure of the Egyptian President at the time, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
The train of Arab summits followed, and the Palestinian issue remained the greatest concern of the Arab leaders and the focus of the actions of the following summits, including the Algiers summit in November 1973, which called for the Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Arab lands, including Jerusalem, as well as the Rabat summit in October. The first) 1974, which affirmed the necessity of commitment to the restoration of all the Arab territories occupied in the 1967 aggression and the non-acceptance of any situation that would prejudice Arab sovereignty over the city of Jerusalem. This summit approved the Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
But the Arab bloodshed did not want to be limited to the Palestinian front. It spread to Lebanon through a prolonged civil war, and the Arab summit was not absent from the crisis. At the invitation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a mini-Arab summit was held in Riyadh, in October 1976, which included 6 countries. With the aim of stopping the bloodshed in Lebanon, restoring normal life to it, respecting Lebanon’s sovereignty, refusing to divide it, and rebuilding it.
In 1978, the Arabs were on a date with a dramatic shift in the course of the conflict with Israel. The Egyptian President at the time, Anwar Sadat, launched his peace initiative, visited Jerusalem, and began direct negotiations with Israel with American mediation, which at that time represented a “political earthquake” by all accounts.
The ninth regular Arab summit conference was held in the Iraqi capital. Baghdad, and the participants decided not to approve the two Camp David agreements signed between Egypt and Israel because they contradict the decisions of the Arab summit conferences.
Dr. Ahmed Youssef believes that in addition to that summit’s rejection of the settlement approach with Israel, it produced a new approach to dealing with Arab differences based on boycott, considering that this approach “later proved useless, that its losses are greater than its benefits, and that resolving differences within the Arab house is more important.” Efficacy of isolating the party with which the dispute is with him; This is what the Arab decision benefited from in the case of Syria recently.
The former dean of the Arab Research Institute recalls from the memory of the Arab summits a summit that he sees as a precursor to subsequent great developments, namely the Moroccan Fez summit in 1982, which provided “evidence of the Arab regime’s adoption of the settlement approach, but with better terms than those of Camp David.” As that summit witnessed the presentation of King Fahd’s project for peace in the Middle East (at the time he was the crown prince of Saudi Arabia), and it was approved as a project for Arab peace.
It jumps back twenty years forward, specifically to the 2002 Beirut summit, which adopted the initiative of the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, for peace in the Middle East, which became known as the “Arab Peace Initiative”. Ahmed points out that this initiative “is still the declared official Arab position on the issue of peace.”
Deep Arab cracks
Going back to the last decade of the twentieth century, the train of Arab summits was on a date with comma stations, foremost of which came the Cairo summit in August 1990, which was the summit that followed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the decisions of that summit were – as Dr. Ahmed Youssef points out – There is a major difference between two parties within the Arab League. One side believes that it is necessary to seek the help of foreign forces to expel the occupation forces that Saddam Hussein sent to invade Kuwait, while the other side is reluctant to seek the help of non-Arab forces to resolve an Arab conflict. The decision was taken in the end in favor of liberating Kuwait with the help of non-Arab forces.
The Arab summit did not convene until six full years after that summit in 1996 in Cairo, which Ahmed sees as “an embodiment of deep Arab rifts caused by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.” However, he appreciates in this regard the leadership role played by Saudi Arabia and Egypt to bridge the gap between the Arab countries and restore life to the regime. the whole Arab.
The professor of political science at Cairo University monitors the absence of the Arab summit from events that he deems important in the course of Arab history, as no Arab summits were held in 2003, which witnessed the American invasion of Iraq, nor in 2006, which witnessed an Israeli aggression against southern Lebanon, and the situation was repeated in 2011. ; As a result of the events of what became known as the “Arab Spring”, and the unwillingness of Iraq, the host country at the time, to receive Arab leaders.
The postponed summit was held the following year in Baghdad in March 2012, when Arab leaders called for a dialogue between the Syrian authorities and the opposition, calling on Damascus to immediately implement the plan of the United Nations and the Arab League’s special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan.
Perhaps the Sirte summit hosted by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2010, a year before his overthrow, and the Sharm el-Sheikh 2015 summit, which witnessed Arab support for the Decisive Storm that Saudi Arabia led in Yemen, which Dr. Ahmed Youssef believes “stopped Iranian expansion in Yemen,” may also stand out.
The Makkah Al-Mukarramah Summit, which was held in May 2019, was the last of the exceptional Arab summits to discuss Iranian interference in the region, following the attack that targeted commercial ships in the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates, and the Houthi attack on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia. Its solidarity and solidarity in the face of Iranian interference, and it condemned Iran’s interference in the affairs of Bahrain, its influence on the unity of Syria, its occupation of the UAE islands, and its support for terrorist groups.
Although the Arab summits stopped since 2019, due to the Corona virus pandemic, they returned again in 2022 with the Algerian summit, which raised the slogan of “reunification.” Previous deliberations on it witnessed efforts to restore Syria to its seat in the Arab League, which was not achieved at the time. So that the “reunion” will remain postponed until the Jeddah summit, which will be the first “full” Arab summit in 12 years.