Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Arab League Divided

From the [Kuwait] Arab Times, 24th July 2006 : Web Edition No: 12588, by Editor-in-Chief: Ahmed Jarallah ...

Kuwait backs ‘Arab summit’ as Yemen decides to pull proposal; ‘Meeting could lead to further divisions’

SANAA (RTRS): Yemen withdrew on Sunday a proposal for an emergency Arab summit on Middle East violence, saying such a meeting would only widen political schisms among Arab governments. Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi made the announcement as a senior official in the Cairo-based Arab League said the organisation was one vote shy of a two-thirds majority needed to convene a meeting. “Yemen has withdrawn its call for an emergency Arab summit, out of fear that such a meeting would lead to deeper divisions and wider schisms within Arab ranks,” Qirbi told reporters.

Yemen first proposed the meeting shortly after Israel started bombarding Lebanon 12 days ago after Hezbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel also stepped up attacks on Gaza after Palestinians captured another soldier. Since then, Saudi Arabia has directly criticised Hezbollah, saying it had embarked on an ill-considered adventure. Syria, the only Arab government that openly backs Palestinian militant group Hamas and Hezbollah, has said its position towards the summit would depend on whether it would support the guerrillas.

Diplomats say other Arab governments friendly with the United States also consider Hezbollah’s kidnapping of the soldiers a mistake....In Cairo, a senior Arab League official said on Sunday that Somalia, Mauritania, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and the Comoros Islands had joined seven other Arab League members to support a Yemeni proposal for a summit. At least 15 governments in the 22-member Arab League must agree before a summit can go ahead, but more could do so in the days to come. Egypt, Qatar, Algeria, Lebanon, Djibouti, Sudan and the Palestinians had signed on earlier.

.... Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has said Arab countries must agree on the main points before the leaders meet. Arab foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo earlier in July on the violence and called for a ceasefire. Only Saudi Arabia has criticised Hezbollah directly, referring to its military operation at the Lebanese border to seize two Israeli soldiers as an ill-considered adventure. That attack prompted Israel to launch its offensive. But in private, other Arab governments friendly with the United States consider the Hezbollah operation a mistake, diplomats say.

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