Amr Moussa
Amr Moussa is a former Arab League Secretary General and former Foreign Minister of Egypt

A Message to the Arab Summit: Under What Circumstances Are You Being Held?

The Arab Summit will convene today in Manama, the capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Its annual meeting almost brings back to the Arab mind, and even to the Arab conscience, the cry of Al-Mutanabbi:

“O, Bairam days come back again as you desire. No matter you come as usual or wearing new attire.”

This time, the summit is being held amid a gloomy international atmosphere and disturbing regional situations. What disturbance is greater than what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank, where Palestinian blood is flowing and Arab house is collapsing, with its cities and villages, politics and interests, people, trees and stones?

If you add to that the divisions in Sudan, the neglect in Somalia, helplessness in Lebanon, crying over the ruins in Syria, status quo in Libya, turmoil in Tunisia and the Arab Maghreb in general, conspiracies in the Fertile Crescent, and in the Arabian Gulf, threats that may affect the stability of its countries, and even their independence... you understand that leaders gathered in Manama have a compound responsibility.

They will have to deal with a serious challenge to Arab be or not to be. This had never been raised before, or presented with such frankness and clarity.

First: I expect that the summit this year will not last only a few hours. In the previous meetings, the attendees raced to return to their capitals, considering that they fulfilled their duty through their presence, without allowing sufficient time to formulate stances that address the existing problems. The current challenges require positions and procedures expressed by the collective Arab mind in the face of a negative and unprecedented situation, which is considered a political insult and a strategic disregard for the Arabs as a whole.

Second: Never before has the international system allowed a small state like Israel to represent an exception to international law and human rights values. Rather, it has invented a legitimate right of defense of its own that does not apply to any other state... a legitimate right of defense against the civilian population in the occupied territories, who are protected by international law in times of war.

We have never heard before that the Security Council allowed the crime of genocide to continue, by refusing to issue a ceasefire resolution, under pretexts of extreme political nonsense and legal emptiness.

We have not heard before of international positions that enable “mercenaries” to compete for the rule of an important African-Arab country such as Sudan, and other positions that establish two governmental entities within one state, as is happening in Libya, to destroy its stability and development until the great powers decide something that is seen as effective.

The situation is seen in most corners of the Arab world, and if it is left as it is, it is easy to expect a major collapse within the Arab house.

Is it possible for the Arab Summit to meet without dealing with all of this, to give it the necessary time and attention, and to issue stances and initiatives that express the Arab position at this high level of Arab kings, presidents and emirs? I do not think so.

Third: The matter is not only about addressing the great powers and others at the international and regional levels, but most importantly, talking to the Arab public opinion and the rising generations in a convincing way. They are the ones whose hearts have begun to be despondent, as they feel being insulted as human beings and citizens of Arab countries. They are waiting for their current leaders to relieve them of the contemporary historical stumbling block and protect their identity.

Fourth: Yes, there are disagreements, some of which can be described as radical differences. However, there are multiple ways to deal with them, not necessarily through shouting or fighting, but rather with a serious presentation befitting the level of the summit and which addresses the means to reconcile a decision with the common Arab political interest.

Fifth: Any adult citizen expects the summit leaders to make reasonable and firm Arab decisions regarding the necessity of ending the turbulent situation in Libya, helping Tunisia maintain its stability, and rejecting “mercenaries” assuming the presidency of Sudan under any circumstances, along with a firm stance that rejects the rule of a minority claiming to defend religion and the formation of a summit committee to help Sudan return to a normal, stable situation. A similar demand can be made with regard to Lebanon, Syria, Somalia, and perhaps others.

Sixth: The summit leaders are expected to observe the regional situation, and reflect on the Arab position towards Iranian policy and Turkish approaches, the situation in the Red Sea and in Arab waters and their wealth, whether in the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, or the Mediterranean Sea.

Seventh: Making strong and clear decisions regarding what is happening in Gaza remains an urgent priority for the Arab public opinion. The issuance of a firm decision by the Arab Summit that clarifies the Arab position - at least for history - can put things in the right place and contribute to creating a positive atmosphere throughout the Arab world.

All of this and more make it imperative for the Arabs to meet at the highest level, as is happening in Manama today, and for them to take their time.

Stay in Manama for a day and part of a day, not for an hour or part of an hour.

The matter is important, and the moment is decisive... God helps those who help themselves, and He is the One who grants success and relief. Please accept this with the utmost respect.