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PoliticsAlgeria

Arab League leaders meet in Algeria after 3-year gap

November 2, 2022

The 22-member Arab League summit is being hosted in Algeria this year. Even as the league continues to support the Palestinian cause, many members have normalized ties with Israel.

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Leaders and heads of delegations at the Arab League Summit.
The event is a chance for Algeria to showcase its leadership.Image: Tunisian Presidency/REUTERS

Leaders of Arab countries met at the 31st Arab League summit in Algiers on Monday, for the first time in three years. 

The 22-member league had hosted its last conference in 2019, before the pandemic.

The meeting happened against the backdrop of rising inflation, food and energy shortages, drought and soaring cost of living across the Middle East and Africa. 

Hosts Algeria avoid calling out Russia

"The regional and international context [is] marked by rising tensions and crises, particularly in the Arab world, which in its modern history hasn't seen a period as difficult as the one it is currently undergoing," said Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Tebboune did not mention Russia's invasion of Ukraine in his speech, but did say that "exceptional global conditions are creating polarization... which is impacting our food security." 

Russia's war on Ukraine has affected many member states, since several Arab countries are heavily dependent on Ukrainian and Russian wheat exports. The Arab world has mostly retained a neutral stance in the war.

The war in Ukraine "has exacerbated the food and energy security crisis, along with a number of other reasons... climate change and natural disasters," Tunisian President Kais Saied said in his opening address. 

Palestinian cause still 'central and primary'

Tebboune also said that "our central and primary cause remains the Palestinian cause."

This follows tensions within the Arab League, which has a history of supporting Palestinian authorities, as several members have normalized ties with Israel in recent years. 

Addressing an audience that included UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Tebboune called for a UN General Assembly session to make Palestine a fully-fledged member state. 

The two-day meeting coincided with elections in Israel that could return former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to office. 

Monarchs missing, Syria still suspended

Morocco's King Mohamed VI and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman were among the notable absentees, and sent other dignitaries to attend instead.

Biden warns Saudi Arabia after oil supply cuts

The Syrian government was also not represented in Algiers. Bashar Assad's Syria was suspended from the bloc in 2011, early in the civil war. 

Algeria and other members had been lobbying for its reintegration, but came up against stiff opposition from Gulf states in particular. 

tg/msh (AFP, AP)