Foreign Ministers from 22 Arab states will gather in the eastern city of Dammam in Saudi Arabia this weekend for the 29th Arab League Summit.
The meeting comes as leaders from the UK, US and France have pledged to escalate a military intervention in Syria’s civil war.
Timeline for Crossing borders
- February 22, 2019
Yesterday Arab leaders met in the Saudi capital Riyadh for a preparatory meeting to fix the agenda for the one day summit.
The Arab-Israeli conflict will be on the agenda with members expected to try to prevent Israel from gaining a rotating seat on the UN Security Council. Winning a Security Council seat requires a two-thirds majority in the 193-nation General Assembly.
Candidates are proposed by the five regional groups but election to the council is voted on by the full assembly. A vote will be taken by members of the UN General Assembly on 8 June.
Turkey and Iran’s influence in the Arab world is also likely to feature, as both countries have been accused of meddling in Arab affairs.
Mahmoud Afifi, the official spokesperson of the Arab League, has said the summit would also address Libya and civil wars in Yemen and Syria.
Afifi said the agenda would however be dominated by the expanding role of Gulf arch-rival Iran in the region and its ally Turkey.
Talks at the Summit will be mainly dominated by the foreign interferences in Arab states, particularly from Iran and Turkey.
This meeting will come amid troubling times in the Arab World.
At the opening session of Thursday’s preparatory meeting, the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the Palestinian cause is the most central and crucial issue in the region.
He added that reaching an agreement on Jerusalem would be integral to making peace in the Middle East.
3 Things That Will Change the World Today
Who is attending?
An ongoing diplomatic row between the host country and four other Arab countries has cast doubt over whether the Qataris will take part in the event this year.
An invitation has been extended to the Gulf state that lies on Saudi Arabia’s north-east border.
Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, Moussa Faki, the chairman of the African Union Commission, and Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, are all expected to be there.
Syria’s foreign minister will not take part in the talks after their membership was suspended in November 2011 over the country’s seven-year civil war.
Why does it matter?
The meeting will be the first time Arab League summit members meet since Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar 10 months ago.
The row broke out last year after states accused Doha of being a state-sponsor of terrorism. They have also slammed Qatar for its close relationship with Iran, who other GCC states despise.
The summit will also be the first time leaders from the Arab world get together after US President Donald Trump said he would move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in December.
Meanwhile, the three-year military intervention in Yemen’s civil war by a coalition of Arab League members including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain is ongoing.
During the summit leaders will discuss peace talks between Israel and Palestinians. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman has held a series of discussions with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner on a new peace deal.
The peace deal is based on Trump’s pledge to reach the “deal of the century” between the warring sides.
The Arab Summit comes after a chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma last week has been condemned by leaders in the UK, the US, and France.
The summit was originally scheduled to take place at the end of March but was changed to accommodate Egypt’s presidential elections.