1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Arab League summit: no one showed up

July 26, 2016

Only seven of 22 heads of state attended the conference, held in Mauritania for the first time. The lack of leaders led to the event being cut to just one day.

Arab League summit
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Emirates News Agency

Holding this year's summit in a tent in the capital Nouakchott, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said it was "a historic event that the Mauritanian people have long awaited."

But only a handful of leaders turned up, which pundits said pointed to the pan-Arab organization's struggles under the strain of various regional crises - including the conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Libya.

Egypt's president Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, along with Saudi King Salman and his powerful son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were noticeably absent. Jordan's King Abdullah II, Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and the leaders of Tunisia, Algeria and Tunisia also failed to turn up.

Peace process discussed

The region's leaders that were present expressed their support for a French initiative to hold an international peace conference by the end of the year to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, although Israel rejected the initiative.

Leaders hit out at what they said was terrorism carried out in the name of Islam and called for an "Arab strategy" to find solutions.

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam proposed the establishment of safe "refugee zones," which would be supervised by an Arab commission, inside Syria. Syria's neighbors, including Lebanon, are home to millions of refugees fleeing the country's five year conflict.

Arab League summit
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Emirates News Agency

Middle East watchers said past initiatives, such as last year's plans for a joint Arab military force to fight Islamic militancy and confront Iran's aspirations, failed to gather steam.

Host nation 'insulted'

One Lebanese minister created a furor when he described the host country as "miserable," comparing this year's venue - a tent - to previous summits held in five-star hotels or luxury conference centers.

But one Palestinian columnist hit out at those complaining about the simple facilities, saying they were "arrogant" for failing to understand that Mauritania is a poor country.

Those who did attend the summit included Qatari Emir Tamim Al-Thani, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

The two-day summit was cut back to just a one day event, and leaders agreed to hold next year's summit in Yemen, despite the ongoing civil war.

mm/kl (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)