Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir speaks to the press after a preparatory meeting prior to the Arab League summit on April 12, 2018 in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia hosts on Sunday the annual summit of the Arab League countries, a meeting that takes place 24 hours after the Western attacks on Syria and which will also address the situation in Iran and Yemen as well as the future of Jerusalem.
Saudi Arabia, which took over from Jordan in the rotating presidency of the 22-member organization, would seek to establish a firm and unified stand against Iran, its great regional rival in the Middle East, the experts estimated.
Riyadh and Tehran have spent years in indirect conflicts, from Syria to Yemen past Iraq and Lebanon.
The summit comes 24 hours after the United States, the United Kingdom and France launched attacks against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Iran and Russia, in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack allegedly launched by Damascus against the rebels. in Guta Oriental.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar, faced for ten months by Riyadh’s accusations that Doha supports radical groups, expressed support for Western military action.
This type of summit usually does not end with concrete actions and the last time the Arab League, founded in 1945, ended with a decisive decision was in 2011, when it suspended Syria for the role of its president in the civil war.
For this reason, Syria will be absent.
– “Response to the crimes of the regime” –
King Salman of Saudi Arabia will preside over the meeting, which is being held in the town of Dhahran, in the east of the country, 200 kilometers from the Iranian coast.
Among the leaders who have already reached the summit are Abdel Fattah al Sisi (Egypt), Fuad Masum (Iraq), Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi (Yemen), Beji Caid Esebsi (Tunisia), Michel Aun (Lebanon), Omar El Bechir (Suán) ) and Mahmud Abbas (Palestinian Authority), said the official Saudi agency SPA.
In the Syrian conflict, which is undoubtedly the most complex in the region, Riyadh and its allies agree in support of the rebels, mostly Sunni groups.
On the other hand, Iran and the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement are on the side of the Assad regime.
Saudi Arabia expressed its “full support for the bombings (…) as they constitute a response to the crimes of the Syrian regime.
Qatar, which confirmed its participation in the summit, despite its differences with Riyadh, also expressed its “support” for Western operations. “The continued use by the Syrian regime against civilians of chemical weapons (…) requires immediate action,” he explained.
On Yemen, Riyadh has continued to denounce the growing use of drones and “Iranian” missiles launched into its territory by the Houthi rebels, who dominate the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, and the northern regions bordering Saudi Arabia.
Riyadh, which has intervened militarily in Yemen since 2015 to assist the government recognized by the international community, will seek to mobilize its partners against what it called a “direct aggression” by Iran, which experts blame for providing sophisticated equipment to the Houthis.
Iran has denied that it gives any military support to the Houthis.
The future of Jerusalem is also on the agenda at a time when the United States is preparing to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, after having recognized this city as the capital of Israel.
In early April, the Saudi king, 82, had “reaffirmed the kingdom’s firm position on the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”
However, his son, the powerful Crown Prince Mohamed Ben Salman, said this month that Israelis have the “right” to have their own state, sending a new signal of rapprochement with the country, which like Saudi Arabia considered Iran to be his “black beast”.