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Arab League Summit Focuses on Terrorism in Region

Arab League Summit Focuses on Terrorism in Region

Representatives pose after the opening ceremony of the Arab league conference on July 25, 2016 in Nouakchott. AFP PHOTO / STR
Representatives pose after the opening ceremony of the Arab league conference on July 25, 2016 in Nouakchott. AFP PHOTO / STR

The 27th Arab League Summit held in Nouakchott, Mauritania came to a close on Tuesday after several state leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman Al-Saud, failed to attend.

Egyptian media had reported earlier this week that Sisi’s absence at the summit was a result of an assassination plot against him but presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef denied these reports as “not true.”

King Salman, meanwhile, was reportedly unable to attend due to health concerns.

Despite the absence of many state leaders, the summit focused on a number of pressing regional issues, particularly the situations in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, who attended the summit in Sisi’s stead, denounced foreign intervention in the region and blamed it for the rise of terrorism, particularly the Islamic State.

“Foreign intervention in Arab affairs is one of the major reasons for the current crisis, therefore we should work together to cement our domestic fronts in order to be able to stand up to these foreign interventions,” he said.

The summit’s ending statement also refused the “external interference in Arab affairs by Iran.”

Speaking at an Arab ministerial meeting ahead of the summit on Saturday, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt has been working to deter “foreign plots” against the country and the Arab world as a whole.

The foreign minister called for increased Arab cooperation to prevent the turmoil currently pervading several countries in the region from reaching other countries enjoying stability.

The Arab leaders at the summit also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Arab territories but otherwise did not put forth potential solutions.

“The Declaration emphasized the centrality of the Palestinian issue in the joint Arab action. In this regard, the Arab leaders commended, in their declaration, the recent Egyptian efforts to push the peace process and welcomed the French Initiative that calls for the convening of an international peace conference,” reads the summit’s final statement.

The summit was held in Mauritania for the first time since the country joined the Arab League as a member state in 1973. Morocco had been set to host the summit but backed out earlier in July due to the lack of “objective circumstances that guarantee a successful Arab summit.”

This was also the first summit to take place during former Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul-Gheit’s tenure as the League’s Secretary-General.

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Noura Shibl is a senior journalism student at the American University in Cairo, with an interest in photography. Hoping to report meaningful and unbiased stories about Egypt.

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