Arab Summit highlights solidarity against Iranian interference

By Waleed Abu al-Khair in Cairo

Arab leaders participate in the 27th Arab League summit, held in Nouakchott, Mauritania on July 25th and 26th. [Photo courtesy of Kuwait News Agency]

Arab leaders participate in the 27th Arab League summit, held in Nouakchott, Mauritania on July 25th and 26th. [Photo courtesy of Kuwait News Agency]

The closing statement issued by the leaders taking part in the 27th Arab Summit in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on July 25th and 26th included a strongly worded rejection of "Iranian interference that threatens Arab national security".

The issuance of this denouncement demonstrates "a unified Arab stance against Iran's interference and is a clear message to Iran to keep its hands off the region, especially as it has recently intensified its interventions in Iraq and Syria", said Cairo University professor of international relations Muhyuddin Ghanem.

The statement shows that Arab states "demand that Iran stop backing groups that it supports" in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen, and refrain from sowing chaos and undermining security across the region, he told Al-Mashareq.

Not the first time

"The position taken by the Arab League towards Iran is not the first this year, and it seems that it will not be the last, based on the course of political developments in the region," said Fathi al-Sayed, a researcher specialising in Iranian affairs at the Middle East Centre for Regional and Strategic Studies.

Most of the Arab League members "already declared a firm position on January 10th, at the conclusion of an Arab League member states' foreign ministers meeting held at the request of Saudi Arabia", he told Al-Mashareq.

At this meeting, he said, "they affirmed in a joint statement their solidarity with the kingdom in the face of hostile attacks and provocative actions by Iran against Saudi Arabia and denounced Iran's attacks on diplomatic missions".

That statement explicitly condemned Iran’s interference in the affairs of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, he said, adding that this sentiment was reiterated by those same countries during a March 11th meeting of Arab ministers that focused on the role of Hizbullah in advancing Iranian interests in the region.

"The Arab League is pursuing a course of incremental escalation in its stance towards Iran, with an emphasis on maximum self-restraint, for the Arab states and foreign ministers know full well the heavy price the region would pay in the event the situation with Iran explodes and reaches an impasse," he said.

"We see them trying to apply political and diplomatic pressure to deter Iran's repeated attempts to interfere in the affairs of Arab states," he said.

"In some areas, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the conflict has taken a different form, namely indirect confrontation on the ground," he said.

In these countries where proxy militant groups are being used, al-Sayed said, Iran is leveraging the conditions on the ground to maximise political gains.

Terror waged in name of Islam

Opening the talks, Egyptian prime minister Sherif Ismail called for "an Arab strategy of struggle against terrorism".

"We must recast the religious language that terrorist elements exploit to their own ends to sow terror, death and destruction," he said.

Terrorists were deflecting Islam's message of peace, he added.

Mauritania's head of state Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is hosting the summit, also slammed the "blind violence of terrorists" that feeds instability in the Arab world.

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First, damn the Arab Summit and the religion they’re following because it is a religion of lies, conspiracies and quackery. We have our own religion, that of our Allah, the Creator, and our Prophet Muhammad. As to you rascals, you have your own religion, your religion is the devil, and Israel is your prophet. The Jewish, Wahabi, diabolic kingdom will not decide our fate; it can decide your fate, you, worshipers of money. Iran can occupy the Arab world within one week, and I swear to it. Don’t depend on America and Israel. America, in the end, is interested in the strong side in the region, and it wants a new strong eastern state, like Iran or Syria. The other opinion is that Russia’s intervention has forced America to return to the countdown. Your history, you dogs, has ended; meaning you have expired. We shall see very soon. In conclusion, may God curse you, except for the great Syria, the resisting Lebanon, and the nationalist and steadfast Iraq. Long live Syria!