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His Highness the Amir and other Arab leaders pose for a family photo before commencement of the 25th Arab League Summit at Bayan Palace
SUMMIT STRUGGLES TO STAVE OFF ENORMOUS PERIL Amir regrets widening inter-Arab rift

 KUWAIT CITY, March 25, (Agencies): His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al- Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah expressed regret for the widening disputes among Arab countries, saying the Syrian crisis was threatening internationl security.

Addressing the 25th Arab summit, His Highness Sheikh Sabah said disputes in the Arab world were widening and undermining “our existence, values, hopes and aspirations, and we have become preoccupied with them at the expence of our ability to confront the challenges.” He called for “an honest stance to achieve unity” among the Arab countries. “We should address these differences and unite and to work together to overcome the disputes,” asserted His Highness the Amir.

He added that “we cannot go ahead with our common Arab action with our differences looming in the horizons ... (which are) wasting our time.” His Highness the Amir said the space of agreement among the Arab countries is larger than the space of differences. He meanwhile said the Syrian crisis, which was entering its fourth year, has been claiming tens of thousands of innocent people, destroying every sign of life and displacing around half of the Syrian population.

His Highness Sheikh Sabah cited a report by UNICEF which noted that the Syrian conflict forced displacement of 5.5 million children, three million children were not going to school and the mortality rate among children was the highest among any other conflict “in our present time. “We are before a painful reality, and humanitarian, moral and legal crisis, and condemnation will not be enough ...,” he said. His Highness the Amir said the conflict in Syria spilled over beyond the Syrian borders and became a threat to the security of the world. “We reiterate our call on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to live up to its responsibility to restore international peace and security, and to end this crisis,” he said. “We feel the suffering of our brothers (in Syria) and work hard to alleviate their suffering,” he added.

His Highness the Amir said Kuwait answered UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon’s calls and hosted two donors’ conferences for the Syrian people, which succeeded in collecting USD four billion in pledges for the Syrians. Kuwait “succeeded in achieving the objective of the conferences, to contribute to alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people,” he said. Kuwait, added His Highness the Amir, has transferred all its pledges to the UN agencies to use in the provision of necessary aid for the Syrian people. His Highness the Amir said terrorism has undermined development in Arab countries. “We all suffer from the terrorism phenomenon, which has been on the rise recently under religious and dogmatic pretext, which aims at killing innocent souls, terrorizing people and hampering development.

The target is the global security and stability, and the entire humanity,” said His Highness the Amir. He asserted that the heavenly faiths reject terrorism. “We (Arab countries) share the burden to confront this dangerous phenomenon,” he added. “We should double our efforts and join international efforts to uproot this dangerous phenomenon regardless of its source and to rid humanity from its threats ...,” he said. His Highness the Amir, meanwhile, said the Israeli mentality was rejecting peace in the region.

Policy
Israel, he added, was insisting on building more settlement. “We will not have a settlement nor peace unless Israel relinquishes its hostile policy and seek peace.” A just and comprehensive peace in the region will not be achieved but with the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in line with the UN resolutions, land-for-peace principle and the Arab peace initiative, he said. His Highness the Amir called on the UNSC to exercise pressure on Israel to abide by the international legitimacy and stop the settlement expansion, praising the US efforts to resume the peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. His Highness the Amir, on the other hand, said the summit was held amidst critical and difficult circumstances in the world and the region. He said the Arab countries should boost consultations among each other to pin point the path to a genuine common Arab action and honor aspirations of the Arab people. “We should address the foundations of our common action to strengthen them, and to focus on our common ground,” he said. His Highness Sheikh Sabah said the “great success” of the Arab Economic summits “affirmed accuracy of our vision ... which thus encourage us to explore further horizons to boosting our unity and bring our peoples closer. “Our common action cannot be achieved without sustainable development ...,” he said. On Iran, His Highness the Amir called on the Islamic Republic to honor obligations in the interim agreement signed with the P5+1 on November 24 2013 under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He noted that the agreement aimed at brushing aside worries about Iran’s nuclear program and clear tensions in the region so the Arab countries could pay more attention to development. His Highness the Amir, meanwhile, congratulated the Yemeni people fore the outcome of the national dialogue which would contribute to security, develoment and prosperity of the people in line with the GCC initiative.

Security
His Highness Sheikh Sabah congratulated the Egyptian people for compliance with the roadmap thus restoring security and stability, the formation of the new government in Lebanon and the Tunisians for their new constitution. The annual summit of the 22-member Arab League also heard an appeal from the UN peace mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, for an end to the flow of arms to the combatants in the war, which has killed over 140,000 people and displaced millions. Brahimi did not name the suppliers, but Saudi Arabia and Qatar are believed to be the main Arab funders of military assistance to rebels in Syria, while non- Arab Iran is the main regional power backing President Bashar al-Assad. “The whole region is in danger” of being dragged into the conflict, Brahimi said, calling for renewed efforts to find a political settlement to the crisis, now in its fourth year. Participants said there were divisions over Qatar’s support for the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, how to deal with the Syria crisis and how to define “terrorism” in the region. The summit follows an unusual dispute within the Gulf Cooperation Council alliance of Gulf Arab states over Qatari support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, and a spat between Iraq and Saudi Arabia over violence in Iraq’s Anbar province. Gulf states tend to keep their disputes private, making a move by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain this month to recall their ambassadors from Qatar highly sensitive. Kuwait has offered to mediate: Shortly before the gathering His Highness Sheikh Sabah, smiling broadly, stood between Saudi Crown Prince Salman and Qatar’s Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al- Thani, holding hands with them in an apparent attempt to convey a mood of reconciliation.

Crown Prince Salman left Kuwait on Tuesday, the state news agency SPA said, soon after he delivered a speech at the opening session. Veteran Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal remained in Kuwait, an aide said. But a Kuwaiti official said the dispute between Qatar and its neighbours was not on the summit’s agenda. “Gulf reconciliation and Gulf issues are something for inside the Gulf house,” said Khaled al-Jarallah, Kuwaiti undersecretary for foreign affairs, ahead of the meeting. Government officials said Kuwait’s emir did not carry out any mediation attempts on the sidelines of the main meeting. Arab summits are often dominated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a unifying topic for Arabs. The “Arab Spring” uprisings that began in 2011 have polarised the region, however. Syria’s war has stirred tension between Sunni Muslims, notably in the Gulf, and Shi’ite Muslims in Iraq, Lebanon and non-Arab Iran, whose faith is related to that of Assad’s Alawite minority. Reiterating that he saw no military solution to the war, Brahimi said Lebanon was in particular danger of being sucked into the conflict. This appeared to be a reference to recent clashes between Alawites and Sunnis in northern Lebanon and bomb attacks by Sunni militants in areas controlled by Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hezbollah, which has been helping Assad in his war against Sunni-dominated rebels. Saudi Crown Prince Salman called for “changing the balance of forces” on the ground there, adding that the crisis in Syria had reached catastrophic proportions.

Fallout
On Monday Lebanon’s foreign minister called on Arab states to support the Lebanese army to counter fallout from Syria’s war, which he said threatened to tear the small country apart. Qatar signalled its irritation on Tuesday with Iraq’s accusation that it backed insurgents fighting Baghdad’s rule, saying it was not appropriate for countries which failed to preserve national unity to accuse other Arab states of supporting “terrorism”. The comments by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, were the first official Qatari reaction after Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim Prime Minister, Nuri al- Maliki, this month accused Doha and Riyadh of funding insurgency. Maliki’s relationships with Sunni-led Gulf Arab states are strained, and they in turn see him as too close to Shi’ite Iran. “It is about time for Iraq to get out of the cycle of rifts and violence and that cannot be achieved by sidelining segments of the population, or accusing it of terrorism, if they demanded equality and participation,” Sheikh Tamim said. “It is not appropriate that those who fail to preserve national unity to accuse other Arab countries of supporting terrorism in their country,” he told fellow heads of state and government at the opening session of an Arab summit in Kuwait. Saudi Arabia has already rejected Maliki’s assertion this month that it and Qatar were funding Sunni insurgents fighting in Iraq’s western Anbar province. The United Arab Emirates summoned Iraq’s ambassador to protest against the accusations, while Bahrain called them “irresponsible”.

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