Arab summit: division and competing agendas

Algeria's attempt to unify the voice of the Arab world and prioritise the Palestinian issue fails, while the Abraham Accords bloc demands to address the Iranian threat
AFP PHOTO / HO / SERVICIO DE PRENSA DE LA PRESIDENCIA DE TÚNEZ - Líderes árabes tras su primera cumbre desde una serie de acuerdos de normalización con Israel que han dividido la región

AFP PHOTO / HO / SERVICIO DE PRENSA DE LA PRESIDENCIA DE TÚNEZ -  -   Arab leaders after their first summit since a series of normalisation deals with Israel that have divided the region

Two agendas clash at the first Arab League summit in three years. The Algerian government's intention to unify the voice of the Arab world floundered at a summit marked by the absence of several monarchs and heads of state, as well as the prevailing division between two blocs with different geopolitical priorities. 

The Abraham Accords, hailed by much of the international scene for bringing about peace between a number of Arab countries and Israel, created a gulf between those who adhere to this plan and those who do not, who have close ties with Iran. Among those who reject a normalisation of relations with Israel is Algeria, which kept the Palestinian issue at the top of the summit's agenda. In its rhetoric, Algeria continues to condemn countries that normalise relations with Tel Aviv. Military cooperation between Israel and Morocco is one of Algeria's red lines. 

AP/TOUFIK DOUDOU - El ministro argelino de Asuntos Exteriores, Ramtane Lamamra, recibe al secretario general de las Naciones Unidas, António Guterres, a su llegada para participar en la Cumbre Árabe
AP/TOUFIK DOUDOU - Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra greets UN Secretary-General António Guterres upon his arrival for the Arab Summit

"At this international juncture, the Palestinian question remains our central cause, at the heart of our concerns and at the top of our priorities, at a time when it is the target of attempts at liquidation, as a result of the continuing serious violations by the occupying forces, who are expanding their illegal settlements, killing innocent people, invading Palestinian towns and villages, confiscating land and property, demolishing houses and buildings and forcing the indigenous Palestinian people into exodus, especially in occupied Al-Quds (Jerusalem)," said Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune in his address to delegations invited to the summit. 

The Algerian organisation avoided as much as possible having other countries set the agenda by putting the threat posed by Iran on the agenda. The delegations sent by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Morocco, which are subject to tensions with the Iranian regime, indicated from the outset of the summit their intention to bring this issue up for discussion in the assemblies. Tensions were reignited after Omar Hilale, Morocco's representative to the United Nations, accused Iran of negotiating a supply of war drones to the Polisario Front, as well as working to penetrate North Africa. 

 AFP PHOTO / HO / SERVICIO DE PRENSA DE LA PRESIDENCIA DE TÚNEZ – El secretario general de la Liga Árabe, Ahmed Aboul Gheit , y el presidente tunecino Kais Saied asistiendo a la apertura de la cumbre árabe en Argel
AFP PHOTO / HO / SERVICIO DE PRENSA DE LA PRESIDENCIA DE TÚNEZ – Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Tunisian President Kais Saied attending the opening of the Arab Summit in Algiers

Algeria, Iran's closest ally in the region, prevented this dossier from dominating the meetings between delegations, putting other issues at the top of the agenda. The UN Secretary General, who was invited to the summit and who took the floor at the beginning, agreed with the Algerian government's call for unity and a resolution of the Palestinian issue. The Iranian dossier, too sensitive for the UN leader, was not mentioned in his speech. Other issues were: food security, climate cooperation and the development of the poorest countries. 

On these three points, delegations agreed on the support shown for Lebanon, which is suffering from a terrible economic crisis and now also from a power vacuum following the resignation of President Michel Aoun. 

As for Syria's readmission to the international organisation, he would have proposed it despite the great risks it represents, according to other delegations. The reinstatement of Syria, expelled in 2011, in the Arab League would be in the interests of Russia, which would mediate through Algiers to achieve this goal.

Today, the last day of the summit, delegations will hold a second closed session to continue working on the dossiers on the table. 
Against the backdrop of the start of the war of independence against France, Algeria is celebrating the start of the war of independence against France, an occasion for the deployment of resources for Tebboune's guests, who are seeking to regain strength in international relations with this summit. Algerian diplomacy has been weakened since 2019 by the political crisis that led to the abdication of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Three years later, the Algerian "Pouvoir" is seeking a new protagonist role on the international stage and hopes to use the summit for this purpose.