May 25, 2004
ARAB SUMMIT: 'ITS SOLE ACHIEVEMENT' IS THAT IT
** Writers denounce a
"theatrical show" full of "slogans and political clichés."
** Outlets term it
"virtually impossible" to agree on one "reform package that
would suit all."
** Arab nations need a
"deep-rooted and lasting common front" to face current challenges.
** Some dailies assail Arab
governments for seeking "servile approval" from the U.S.
'The Arab League has no political weight'-- Euro papers said the "miserable
performance" in Tunis accomplished "nothing new or
original." Most Arab dailies also
labeled the summit "another charade"; Beirut's moderate An-Nahar
said the "only result" was "Arab rhetoric." Algeria's leading El Khabar judged
that the only "parties responsible for the degrading situation in the Arab
world are the Arab leaders themselves."
Jordanian and Palestinian writers dissented, saying the summit was a
"positive step that "pleased everyone without exception." Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Nadwa
concluded that "Arab leaders proved that they are capable of overcoming
their differences and standing united."
'There is little enthusiasm' for reforms-- Moderate Muslim observers saw no "common
reform agenda" to counter the "daily bombardment of imported reform
plans." Despite a "yearning
for reform across the Arab landscape," Qatar's semi-independent Gulf
Times said the "absence of a timetable for action indicates that there
is little enthusiasm" for reform.
Other analysts doubted Arab leaders will suddenly start "calling
for democracy against their tyrannical regimes" given their "long-standing
backlog of pledges to initiate something resembling reform." But some papers asserted that Arab citizens
"aspire to build more transparent and fair systems"; the
pro-government Bahrain Tribune stressed the "time for change has
The Ummah faces 'many strong storms'-- Many Arab dailies warned that the region's
"crises are spiraling out of control." The West Bank's independent Al-Quds
warned the "Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and American-British
occupation of Iraq can never be ended by simply wishing," so summit
participants must show "willingness to implement" resolutions. Saudi Arabia's conservative Al-Madina
also urged "practical and actionable solutions" to the
"Israeli-Palestinian struggle and the Iraqi turmoil." Several outlets bemoaned "Arab
disunity"; the government-owned Syria Times lamented the
"terrible collapse from which the dismembered body of the [Arab] nation is
Arab leaders must 'stand up against their
foreign benefactors'-- "Some Arab leaders
act like U.S. ambassadors," complained one Saudi daily that questioned
Washington's regional influence.
Lebanon's Al-Mustaqbal affirmed U.S. dominance, labeling U.S.
ties "one of the dearest secrets in the heart of every Arab
official." Pakistan's center-left Dawn
judged that Arab leaders "lacking popular support...need Western,
especially American, support for survival." Dailies such as London's pan-Arab Al-Hayat
saw an "urgent need to reassess the Arabs' relationship with the U.S.
administration" to truly achieve Arab aims.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media
Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a
representative picture of local editorial opinion. This report summarizes and interprets foreign
editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S.
Government. This analysis was based on
50 reports from 16 countries over 20 -
25 May 2004. Editorial excerpts from
each country are listed from the most recent date.
GERMANY: "The League
Heiko Flottau judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (5/24): "This was an easy
exercise for the Arab League. Neither
courage nor political skill is necessary to condemn U.S. torture in Iraq and
the Israeli attacks on Palestinians. But
the Arab potentates do not mention that torture and sexual abuse are common in
their prisons. This is why Arab
governments that mistreat their prisoners have no right to pillory such
practices. Of course, the torrent of
words cannot obscure their traditional incapability of reaching a
consensus.... The Arab League remains
incapable of acting.... Nobody should be
surprised that the great Arab reform agenda fell by the wayside. Only internally strong Arab nations will be
able to withstand U.S. and Israeli pressure.
But the potentates who cling to power close their eyes to this
insight. The league that was founded in
1948 to defend the Arab world against western colonial powers has become
"A Miserable Association"
Martina Doering said in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(5/24): "It was a miserable
performance that the 22 members of the Arab League offered in Tunis.... What is the value of a paper whose vague
formulations did not get the support of the majority of actors? Nothing.
The Arab League has no political weight and obviously does not want
it. This means that everything remains
as it was before. Somehow they must have
failed to realize that the situation around its member states has dramatically
changed. Iraq explodes, the Palestinians
are overrun, terrorist groups are on the rise and jeopardize not only the West
but mainly their own regimes. We would
not waste an idea of the Arab League if some of its members were not so
important: As suppliers for crude
RUSSIA: "Nothing New"
Vladimir Bogdanov stated in official
government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (5/24): "The world heard nothing new or original
from the Arab leaders."
"The Making Of An American League"
Yelena Suponina commented in reformist Vremya Novostey
(5/24): "As shown by the summit,
the 280 million Arabs are not a single force, as the region where their
countries are located is living through the hardest time in history.... The Made in U.S.A. trademark, more than
anything else, annoys and attracts the Arabs at the same time. It is like nicotine--a slow death
guaranteed. Qaddafi has made his choice:
since last December he has made every possible concession to Washington,
preferring a slow death to the Shakespearean fate of his Iraqi colleague,
Saddam Hussein. The Arabs, their world
haunted by divisions and strife, feel even more confused, if not scared, seeing
how the U.S. has been acting in their region.
The conflict in Iraq has been an addition to the unresolved Palestinian
problem. The U.S. invasion led to violent regime change. But Washington, for all its failures, won't
stop. Bush has put forward a Greater
Middle East concept offering more aid in democratic reform. The Arabs, dismayed, don't know what to
expect from the United States' continued attempts to sow the 'seeds
democracy.' Yet no one will dare say a
firm 'no' to the American friend.
Instead, some (Tunisia, for one) rushed to express their servile
approval.... Arab governments don't mind
reform and democracy, but they are afraid that they may end up with something
"Libya's New Image"
Yevgeniy Shestakov wrote in reformist Izvestiya
(5/24): "Libyan leader Muamar
Qaddafi walked out of the Arab League summit. It looks as if he went to Tunis
to do exactly that. Qaddafi did his
homework, coming up with accusations of 'flabbiness' and disunity against
participants in the meeting, sure that his new European allies would put those
down to his eccentric character. The
lonely Bedouin without as little as a birth certificate (this is what the Libyan
leader likes to call himself) has lived up to his European partners'
expectations. He urges the U.S. and
Europe to invest in Libya's oil and gas industry, has offered IAEA inspectors
access to WMD production facilities, and has settled political and financial
differences with London and Paris. In a
gesture of good will, he has sent to the United States more than 500 tons of
equipment that was used for nuclear research in his country. Qaddafi has made his choice. His ostentatiously breaking up with the Arab
League is just a finishing touch in creating a new image for Libya."
Ivan Groshkov remarked in centrist Nezavisimaya
Gazeta (5/24): "The Arab League summit did take place after all,
which, admittedly, is its only accomplishment."
WEST BANK: "Tunis
Summit...A Summit To Ease The Blame"
Hani Masri opined in independent Al-Ayyam
(5/25): "We don't expect or demand
the Summit to reject peace and raise the banner of war against Israel or
America. We don't predict that Arab leaders will rest as great reformers
calling for democracy against their tyrannical regimes.... We, however, expected a stronger
denunciation, more realistic decisions and a bigger support to Palestinians in
facing the Israeli military aggression....
The Arab Summit could have proposed to the international agenda the Arab
peace initiative that was approved in Beirut as a means to turn down any other
initiative that enfeebles Palestinian and Arab rights, particularly the old and
new versions of Sharon's plan."
"A Leaders' Summit Or A Language Forum?"
Talal Okal wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (5/24): "Theoretically, The Arab summit in which
nine Arab leaders, in addition to Gaddafi and the under siege President Arafat
who were absent, has succeeded in drafting a speech and a letter written in a
an outstanding style with all the distinguished and sophisticated vocabulary of
Arabic language.... The Arab summit has
pleased everyone without exception, but did not satisfy anyone. Any participant in this summit can interpret
its decisions as he likes and can act the way he wishes claiming he still
operates according to the resolutions made by Arab leaders."
"Words Alone Will Not Save The Arab World"
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (5/24): "In any case, words alone, no matter how
significant they were, can never rescue the Arab world from the crisis and
challenges it is facing. The Israeli
occupation of Palestinian land and American-British occupation of Iraq can
never be ended by simply wishing or rejecting them verbally.... Thus, we believe the real test of Arab
leaders is not in the decisions or resolutions they made, rather in their
willingness to implement such resolutions and positions and the extent of their
concern that this summit is a beginning of a genuine change."
"Beyond The Summit"
Samih Shubeib commented in independent Al-Ayyam
(5/24): "Even though the holding of
the summit came during extremely hot events, American demands for reforms in
the Arab world were passed and suicide bombings inside Israel were
condemned.... It seems that results of
the summit will be satisfying to Palestinians, particularly the part on
adhering to the Roadmap and resolutions of the international legitimacy, which
will get the Arab regimes close to the European position as a first step
towards imposing pressure on the American position.... However, this state of satisfaction depends
on what comes next. If no proper
mechanisms are developed to implement commitments, including the Roadmap,
decisions will only be appeasing and we'll find ourselves facing new
"Measures Against Israel"
Leading, pro-government Al-Ahram
contended (5/22): "Arab nations
expect their leaders to agree on measures to be taken against Israel's criminal
and bloody attacks against Palestinian civilians."
Aggressive, pro-government Al-Akhbar
declared (5/22): "It is hoped the
Tunis summit will openly announce its condemnation of the cases of violation of
human rights in Iraq and the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in US detention
SAUDI ARABIA: "Arab
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina
editorialized (5/25): "The
decisions of the summit in Tunis might reflect the ineffectiveness of
yesterday’s tools to fix today’s problems, but they also have a spirit of a new
world order. If people who drafted these
resolutions would implement them, this would be a new experience. Otherwise, if those who believe in the
resolutions lose faith in their ability to execute them, then it is another
Arab failure. In any case, the summit
resolutions reflect a new Arab trend and a new direction, even if they are
"The Pledge Document And The Arab Future"
Makkah’s conservative Al-Nadwa observed (5/25): "Fears of failure preceded the Arab
Summit in Tunis. But Arab leaders proved
that they are capable of overcoming their differences and standing united in
the face of danger and today’s challenges.
Endorsing the Pledge document means that the Arab world has taken its
first step towards a new phase. This is
a new period of development, progress, and cooperative Arab efforts at every
level. The pledge also represents a
promise of peace and stability for the whole region."
"After The Arab Summit"
Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad editorialized (5/24): "The issue is no longer to convene or
not to convene an Arab summit. But the
nations of the region are looking forward to decisive movements as a result of
Arab summits. The Arab ship today is
sailing against a high tide and against crushing waves. International communities have failed to
resolve Middle East conflicts, including the Israeli-Palestinian struggle and
the Iraqi turmoil. To take a positive
and strong position on critical issues, the decision has to come from
within. Therefore, any Arab resolution
must be first credible, and then it must be compliant with International
conventions to enforce its implementation."
"The Summit And The Resolutions"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan opined (5/24): "In brief, the Arab summit was supposed
to have been an introduction to a brighter Arab future. It was supposed to
present the vision of Arab leaders for the future.... When we find our true democratic systems we
will be able to identify yesterday’s mistakes and outline the steps for a
better tomorrow. We must learn from our past
mistakes to build a stronger Arab coalition."
"Arabs’ Hope And The People Of The Summit"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina observed (5/23): "Arab leaders are expected to agree on
specific procedures to halt the vicious aggression against Palestinians. This should be achieved in a framework of
political, economic, social, and humane reform strategies that are tailored to
suit the diverse societies. The hope is
for the summit to come out with practical and actionable solutions as opposed
to slogans and political clichés."
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan noted (5/23): "Arab kings and presidents, or those who
represent them at the summit, will soon return to their countries after they
issue the closing statement for the summit.
Next year when they meet in Algeria they will discuss the same issues
and come up with the same closing statement.
A gloomy future for Arabs, but it is the truth."
"No Hopes Out Of The Tunis’ Summit"
Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad remarked (5/23): "If the summit in Tunis succeeded in
achieving what it had previously failed to do, it would still face major
turmoil because of the Palestinian and Iraqi conflicts. That is in addition to the danger that
threatens Syria, the ideological disputes among Arab leaders, and the current
ailing state of Arab countries. We do
not expect a lot out of the summit except producing a record to register the
"The Summit And The Success Bet"
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz declared (5/23): "The resolutions of the summit must rise
to the level of challenges and be closer to Arab aspirations. Arab citizens are shocked by the degrading
violations of prisoner rights in Iraq, and the daily bombardment of imported
reform plans. Arab citizens are helpless
without a regional institution that represents their needs. The Arab League has no credibility. There is no other choice for the summit but
to succeed, because its failure will be worse than the crisis that followed the
earlier decision to postpone it."
"The Summit’s Priorities"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (5/22): "Despite the apologies of some Arab
leaders for missing the Arab Summit in Tunis, the hope is that their absence
would not have an impact on the seriousness to reach solutions for the issues
at hand. Although not too many people
have high expectations for a valuable closing statement after the summit, at
least there has to be a clear vision and plan with strategies for the
future. Let us not forget that the
thousand-mile journey begins with the first step."
"Inseparable Twins, But…!"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan held (5/22): "Arabs expect very little from the
Summit in Tunis. Arabs have had enough
condemnations and denouncing statements.
These decisions and remarks have not been able to heal the wounds of
Palestinians, and they have certainly failed to do anything for the
Iraqis. Not much is expected on the
terrorism issue either. Arabs know deep
inside that Arab summits and empty condemning and denouncing statements are
inseparable twins, but they still hope that this summit might come up with a
unified Arab position on critical issues."
"A Disaster Is Coming"
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz noted (5/22): "We think that time is not on our side
and it does not serve the interests of our countries and nations. The issues require more than just a summit. Leaders of Arab countries, or at least the
influential ones, are expected to hold side meetings to salvage what can be
saved before it is too late, and before the earthquake hits us. This terrifying truth, although painful, is a
reality. The animosity against our
nations has entered a dangerous phase. It is almost impossible for us to face
this danger in our current weak and paralyzed state."
"Puzzles Of The Tunis Arab Summit"
Riyadh conservative Al-Riyadh opined (5/22): "The Arab League is in a crisis over reform
issues and on relations of Arab governments with their own people, who aspire
to build more transparent and fair systems.
Disputes with foreign powers, which translated their policies into
fighting, occupation, and imposition of solutions, have made some Arab leaders
act like U.S. ambassadors, and they are even more [dedicated] than U.S.
"Steering Of The Arab Ship In Tunis"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira maintained (5/22): "Arab leaders have no other choice
except to be pragmatic in dealing with vital current issues such as terrorism
and reform.... The Arab ship is facing
many strong storms and requires wisdom and a vigilant leadership in order to
save the Arab ship from sinking."
Pan-Arab London-based Arabic-language Al-Sharq
Al-Awsat held (5/22): "The
truth is that no Arab government can do anything to end Israeli occupation or
the occupation by US troops in Iraq, because the balance of power is against
them. Whatever they did or will try to do, it will be impossible for them to
Ghassan Charbel stated in pan-Arab London-based Al-Hayat
(5/20): "With the Arab world ailing now more than ever, Saturday's Arab
summit in Tunis is under pressure to deliver on both the Palestinian and Iraqi
questions.... This means there is an
urgent need to reassess the Arabs' relationship with the US administration and
size up US demands.... If the officials
gathered at the summit do not reassess their policies toward the US, it will
jeopardize the life of the summit's ill patient, the Arab world, which is lying
in the emergency room waiting to be resuscitated.... The Arab leaders convening this weekend have
to tend to their two present captives: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and
the Arab world.... An Arab world
incapable of pushing for the freeing of an elected Palestinian leader like
Arafat from Israeli captivity is definitely going to fail to regain its lost
territories and secure a just peace with an adversary so keen on trespassing
international resolutions.... The Arab
delegates to the summit know very well that the situation in Iraq is not merely
a U.S. crisis per say, but an Iraqi and Arab one par excellence.... Would it be possible for Arab leaders to come
up with a unified Arab policy regarding post-war Iraq? How can Arabs influence events in their own
region? Is it through knocking on the doors of the UN or resigning themselves
again to the White House? Arab delegates
know that June 30, the day of the power transfer to the Iraqis, is a fork in
the road of this intensifying crisis, and that any hesitation by the Arabs to
seriously tackle the issue will prove costly for Iraqis, Arabs and
Americans' New Arab Ally"
French-language La Nouvelle Republique maintained
(5/23): "Promoted to the position
of an ‘exceptional partner’ after that the relations between the two countries
had been limited to trade exchanges for a long time, Algeria is now attracting
Washington’s interest. Burns’ visit
comes in the context of the preparations for the Arab summit, where important
reforms are envisioned.”
“The Weak Arab Leaders”
Leading Arabic-language El Khabar contended (5/22): "The only parties responsible for the
degrading situation in the Arab world are the Arab leaders themselves. The White House is not the cause, as many
Arab leaders have tried to say in the past.”
"The Arab Summit"
Top-circulation influential French-language Le Quotidien d’Oran
asserted (5/22): "One of the rare
and valuable advantages of the Arab Summit is to offer to Arabs the beginnings
of answers to questions regarding problems in their world. They have to establish a road map that is
credible enough to be presented in the next G-8 Summit in the United
States. It is a chance that should not
be missed now that Washington is showing some wavering signs in Iraq.”
"Time For Action"
The pro-government English-language Bahrain
Tribune noted (5/25): "They
call it the 'reform agenda' in the Tunis Summit. But certainly the
representatives of the Arab governments in the summit in Tunisia are clear in
recognising that 'democracy' and 'popular participation' are no longer just
foreign concepts that they can shun. Issues of democratisation are for real,
and are pressing the governments more than ever. Reforms are also no longer seen as catchwords
being imported from outside sources, such as the US. Rather there is a felt
urgency amongst the Arabs that there is a real need to shift to democracy and
espouse pro-people governance. The rapid
pace of globalisation and the race towards modernisation can only be guided
rightly when the proper political mechanisms are in place. For many Arab
countries, the time beckons them to do some 'catching up' with the pace of the
rest of the world. The clamour for change after all is not so much that the US
or the West are calling for it, but more importantly the clamour is also coming
from within. Arab peoples, whether in the Gulf States or across parts of the
Middle East and North Africa, are no longer just fence-sitters or bystanders as
they used to be. They clearly want their share, they clearly want their stakes
in the way things are managed by their governments. Development and all the
processes it takes is something that should espouse for the participation of
everyone. There are so many lessons to
learn from the war and the current crisis in Iraq. But definitely, one of the
lessons that can be learned from it is that Iraq has gone to where it is now
because it had for years stayed under the grips of a totalitarian
regime.... There is tension in other
Arab countries because the different poles of democracy and extremism, of
totalitarianism and popularism are now clashing. But the directions are
pointing towards that end--these countries are all heading towards
democratising their own systems. The
summit in Tunis has acknowledged and now beyond such pronouncements, so many
Arab governments will surely find themselves needing to do some cleaning in
their own yards. The time for change has come and for many it is now or
Achievement In Itself"
The independent, English-language elite Jordan Times
commented (5/23): "Holding the Arab
summit in Tunis can be seen as an achievement in itself.... That shows there is a minimum common
denominator among the Arab countries.
Still, the main issue is not the presence or absence of some Arab
leaders in Tunis. The central challenge has remained the same since the start
of Arab summits: To what extent can the Arab world forge a deep-rooted and
lasting common front on existing crises?
Today, the crises are spiralling out of control. And they are doing so at a time when the Arab
world is under pressure to reform....
The Palestinian and Iraqi conflicts top the agenda. On the Palestinian
front, the Arab summit is expected to express the same old pious statements
supporting the Palestinian people and condemning Israel. Pledging continuous
faith in the Quartet-backed roadmap for peace is a foregone conclusion.... But can the Arab summit this time go beyond
the usual rhetoric?.... On the Iraqi
file, where differences of opinion are sure to emerge, despite agreement on the
need to end the occupation, can the Arab countries still not devise a coherent
and united policy on how to prepare Iraq for a better future?.... While everyone is talking about restoring
stability in Iraq so that democracy can take hold, the rest of the Arab world
is still divided over a similar subject, reform, which translates into
democracy. The summit is expected to
formulate and adopt a rather loose and general formula for reforming the Arab
countries. But beyond expressing a yearning for reform across the Arab
landscape, it is virtually impossible for the Arab heads of state to articulate
a reform package that would suit all....
While the Arab peoples have got used to dismissing such meetings as
nothing but formalities, there is always room for surprise."
Semi-official Arabic-language influential Al-Rai
contended (5/22): "The convening of
the summit is a positive step, which could help overcome the bitterness which
followed the postponement of the March summit.... A lot of serious questions are being asked about
the summit expected to begin today. Arab leaders must therefore answer these
questions, because people are watching and waiting."
"Only To Save Face"
Independent Al-Seyassah observed
(5/22): "The Arab leaders are keen
to save face, and to save face they meet today, if they meet at all, with
whoever is there and at whatever level. They will issue to the world a
declaration...that will not contain one single useful sentence."
“The Summit Demands And Decisions On Others”
Rafiq Khoury maintained in centrist Al-Anwar
(5/25): “The documents varied, but the
content is one: registering demands and setting goals without making any
decision.... The Arab Summit in
Tunis...was a summit of embarrassed absentees, while those who were present were
in such a hurry to leave that some did not even wait for the closing session.”
“The Last Stop”
Sateh Noureddin contended in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(5/25): “The Tunis Summit has left the
impression that it might be the last Arab summit, leaving one to deduce that
the meeting Arab leaders are scheduled to hold in Algiers next year is nothing
but an empty promise that will not be fulfilled without a series of
miracles.... Arab leaders rejected an
Egyptian proposal to collectively deal with initiatives advocating reform and
change...but such an official Arab rejection of the external initiatives to
introduce reforms was a very courageous and brave position.... We can say that Arab leaders defied America
in such an exceptional manner, only because the American initiatives calling
for reform, especially the Greater Middle East initiative, are not as serious
as the press is saying. It is just a
hoax American president George Bush’s Administration adopted to give its
occupation of Iraq some legality before the American public opinion and the
“Reform Before And After The Summit”
Radwan As-Sayyed asserted in pro-Hariri Al-Mustaqbal
(5/25): “A feeling of relief rather than
content prevailed after the Summit, because the fact that it convened has
become enough to reduce the fears that gathered as a result of its
postponement. No one is asking about the
results any more.... It is clear that no
one will care about decisions made at the Summit and that the relationship with
the U.S. will continue to be one of the dearest secrets to the heart of every
Arab official. A dear secret he would
not share with anyone no matter how much it hurts or humiliates him.”
"The Summit Of Everything And Nothing”
Independent Al-Balad argued (5/24): “The Arab Summit was not expected to issue
more than it did.... Arab summits in
general...start with every one trying to appease each other and end up in a
similar manner. The Tunis Summit was no
exception.... The only new issue in the
Summit is Arab ‘rejection of the targeting civilians’ within the Arab-Israeli
"Another Arab League Spectacle Draws To A
The English-language moderate Daily Star
opined (5/24): "Another charade has
drawn to a close. As the curtain falls on the latest performance of the veteran
Arab League spectacle, the people of the Arab world wonder at their leaders'
capacity for shifting hot air and not much else.... Declarations were signed, and statements made
and presented as evidence that Arab leaders had committed themselves and their
governments to promoting democracy, civil society and human rights. The
declarations and statements, however, were broad, and short on specifics.
Unfortunately, this is not out of character. Additionally, eight leaders failed
to attend the summit, one walked out, and four others departed before the final
session. The spectacle analogy is irresistible. The only good news is that the
word 'reform,' according to whatever interpretation, is now a matter of general
concern across the Middle East.... But
regional cooperation and coordination are simply nonexistent, and the Arab
League--in any case always an indirect arm of Egyptian foreign policy--is not
effective, nor even viable.... We will
not hold our breath waiting for reforms to be implemented, and any expectations
centering on the next summit, to be hosted by Algeria, must be circumspect.... Much will happen between now and then, and
the Arab League, as in the past, is unlikely to keep abreast of new crises as
they evolve, let alone deal with a long-standing backlog of pledges to initiate
something resembling reform."
"Beyond Their Capabilities"
Samih Saab wrote in moderate, anti-Syria An-Nahar
(5/23): "The issues on the Tunis
Arab summit agenda are beyond the capabilities of Arab leaders, and the only
result we can expect from this meeting is Arab rhetoric.... There were three main issues on the
discussion table in Tunisia: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, post-war Iraq
and Arab reform. Israeli Premier Ariel
Sharon is determined to demolish as many Palestinian houses as he can, and
displace many Palestinians in Rafah before he implements his disengagement plan
in the Gaza Strip.... Arab leaders could
neither ask U.S. President George W. Bush to curb Sharon's aggression against
the Palestinians, nor could they ask Bush to be a fair mediator between Israel
and the Arabs, because Washington is completely biased toward Tel Aviv. Concerning post-war Iraq, Washington has a
complete monopoly on this issue, and the U.S. administration is not ready to
take any advice from the Arabs....
Regarding Arab reform, Arab officials are not enthusiastic about this
issue. Whether reform is imposed by the US, through the Greater Middle East
Initiative, or it comes from within is not the issue. Arab leaders have
completely rejected reform under the pretext that the climate would be
unsuitable as long as the Arab-Israeli conflict goes on.... Whether Bush or his rival, Democratic Senator
John Kerry, were in the White House...Washington is not ready at this juncture
to push either for Arab reform or a solution for the Arab-Israeli
Moderate, anti-Syria An-Nahar mused
(5/22): "Whether the Arab summit is
convened or not, there is no difference, because we know that political will on
the part of Arab governments does not exist when it comes to Arab
"Bush, AIPAC, And The Festival Of Hypocrisy"
Semi-independent, Arabic-language Al-Watan
averred (5/19): "Bush recently
bragged about the joint values of the U.S. and Israel in front of AIPAC, the
Jewish lobby. These joint values seem to
be destruction, hostility, and human rights violations. What kind of logic is it where the leader of
a superpower bases his country’s stability on the support of Israel, yet Israel
is incapable of preventing one suicide operation? Perhaps we should not be surprised at this
logic, given that America’s leader arrived at the White House through a court
decision and not through the votes of a majority of the American people. Is there any hope left for the promotion of
Palestinian rights--endorsed by both Rice and Powell--and the establishment of
a Palestinian state? It is a question
that needs to be addressed at the Tunisian summit. We are hoping for an answer."
QATAR: "Tunis Summit
Will Not Meet Arab Aspirations"
The semi-independent English-language Gulf Times
editorialized (5/24): "The Arab
summit in Tunis was shaky from the beginning. Representation was below par and
probably at the lowest level since the Arab League was set up.... Once again, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
stole the show, staging a dramatic walk-out, denouncing the League as a failed
body and its leaders for failing to defend Arab interests.... Gaddafi accused the League of holding its
summit while two Arab presidents, Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat, were
imprisoned. He also swore never to attend another League summit.... Gaddafi has always been idiosyncratic and
unpredictable but his stance yesterday probably reflects the mood of ordinary
Arabs. Nobody expects much from the summit and its sole achievement it likely
to be that it took place, rather than being cancelled. The final communique has been leaked and
offers no initiatives and no significant shift in the position of the
League.... Nobody expected the League to
call for an end to the occupation of Iraq, but it did at least denounce crimes
against prisoners. Many Arabs would have
hoped that the summit would have taken a tougher line on Israel, in view of the
atrocities it is committing.... Many
would also like to see the U.S. being punished for its wholehearted support of
the Zionist state, perhaps through a reduction of oil output. But, like
Gaddafi, ordinary people feel that League lacks the will to take any radical
action. The reaction to the Arab League
summit in most Arab capitals is simple apathy.
Even the League's expected endorsement of democracy and human rights
fails to ignite enthusiasm, as the absence of a timetable for action indicates
that there is little enthusiasm for such reforms so the League's stand will
have no effect on the behaviour of individual members."
SYRIA: "Tunisia Summit
The government-owned English-language Syria Times thundered
(5/24): "The Arab peoples do not
expect from their leaders a magic wand that changes all the bad conditions and
the deteriorating situation. They only have a hope that they take one stand to
stop the terrible collapse from which the dismembered body of the [Arab] nation
is suffering.... Whether in Palestine or
in Iraq, the nation is still bleeding seriously, but other brethren states
stand inactive and onlookers as if the defenseless people in Palestine and Iraq
do not belong to them in history and blood!
Although Arab peoples have negative and melancholic views on the summit
meeting and their leaders' stands, they have a relative optimism that the Tunis
Summit Conference might bring about a better stand.... In Rafah, Gaza Strip, the streets were
drenched in blood, littered with scores of dead bodies and bleeding wounded
people.... Meanwhile, the US warplanes
dropped more than 100 bombs on a town close to Syrian border killing over 41
civilians, who were celebrating a wedding....
Arab leaders are urged to take a stronger stand to put an end to these
Nazi-like practices and to confront the current challenges.... But, the Arab leaders have to prove it as a
real turning point by closing their ranks and uniting their capabilities in
confrontation of the hostile onslaught.
The Arab leaders have several basic issues other than the liberation of
occupied lands. They have to deal with the deteriorating economic conditions
their citizens suffer. Leaders have both national and socio-economic issues to
deal with. Will they set things on the right path. Unity of their strategy and
means to reach national goals are the first steps required to be taken by
Government-owned Tishreen argued
(5/22): "The scenario is all the
more dark because all the Arab countries live under a permanent blockade, daily
receiving threats and 'orders' and being subjected to strong pressure with the
aim of redrawing a new Middle East, in conformity with the objectives of the
new colonialism and Israel."
UAE: "What's The Point
Of Arab League?
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News held
(5/24): "When you ask an Arab the
reason behind the existence of the Arab League, the answer is usually a
response that encompasses the question in a cynical, rhetorical, angry form
followed by the word 'useless.' Many are
not surprised at the outcome of the Tunis 'summit' held over the past two days.
In fact there were no expectations....
The summit was a theatrical show with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi
storming out of the opening session and leaders of nearly half of the member
countries not attending. The usual support for Palestinians was recorded and
the condemnation of torture in Iraqi prisons was repeated. Some declarations on
reforms were made, but it is yet to be seen whether any results will
follow.... The average Arab citizen
wants a League that addresses the needs of the region. Political strife, economic hardship, and
civil liberties are of great concern to everyone in the Middle East. The Arab
League has failed to deliver on these issues.... As a result, the constant deterioration in
the Middle East has continued.... The
Arab League needs to seriously consider its purpose. The choice is either to
continue being a tool for superpowers which they use for their interests, or to
work on producing a better Middle East for its people and improving the
standing of this rich region on the world stage."
Dubai-based business-oriented government-owned
Arabic-language Al-Bayan maintained (5/22): "There are several issues to be agreed
upon at the Tunis summit, such as curbing Sharon the terrorist's attempts to
change history and geography through massive genocide campaigns against Palestinian
INDONESIA: “Arab League
Summit Messy By Khadafy’s Boycott”
Leading independent Kompas stated
(5/24): “The efforts to strengthen
solidarity and unity, the minimum target of the Arab League Summit in Tunis,
looked messy [to the extent] that Moamar Khadafy left the venue soon after the
conference was opened on 5/22. Khadafy
boycotted the summit because his idea for the formation of a single
Israel-Palestine state failed to enter the agenda of the summit.... Khadafi’s boycott constituted a blow to
efforts to demonstrate unity and solidarity among the league members in dealing
with the Iraqi and Palestinian issues, and in formulating a common reform
agenda.... The Arab League felt guilty
for their inability to prevent the U.S. from invading and occupying Iraq. The feeling of helplessness of the league in
defending the Palestinian struggle and the fate of the Iraqi people has
affected the Tunis Summit as a whole.
Concern, restlessness and nervousness are very apparent.... Moreover, the Arab countries that adopt
absolute monarchic system are nervous about the reform agenda in the political,
social and economic areas.”
“Arab Summit And Bad Fate Of Iraq And Palestine”
Independent Media Indonesia concluded
(5/24): “Would the Summit be able to
provide a solution to the two countries that almost everyday produce horror
stories? In Palestine death is getting
closer because of the many Israel operations.
Whereas, in Iraq death has become common place because of the strikes by
the U.S.-led coalition forces.... The
world has always ended up in deadlock finding a solution to the Iraq and
Palestine issues because of the U.S. In Iraq, it is clear that the war in the
country has been waged because of President Bush’s personal ambitions. While in Palestine, Israel strikes are
supported by the U.S., but no loud voice has come from the Arab world against
the U.S. Bigger anti-war demonstrations
have on the contrary been staged in non-Arab countries. The Arab countries seem to have lost their
power.... Therefore, expecting a
surprise from the Arab Summit is next to impossible. But the Summit will at least show the world
that--they still exist, that they still have their own hope and future, a
future based on their own cultural values, not a forced one just as that the
U.S. does in Iraq.”
"An Arab Non-Event"
Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn
remarked (5/25): "As was only to be
expected, the Arab League summit conference ended at Tunis on Sunday without
producing any results. The meeting epitomized Arab disunity.... The fact is that the Arab leaders do not have
their feet on the ground. Many of them run systems that are not accountable and
deny even elementary political freedom to their own people. The media
throughout the Arab world is shackled, and dissent is suppressed. No wonder, lacking popular support, the Arab
leaders need western, especially American, support for survival. They cannot be
expected to stand up against their foreign benefactors."