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The summit of decline: In defence of an Arab league

16 112 1231
01.04.2019

What is the point of Arab summitry? What is the point of the Arab League as a whole? Is it an anachronism? A misnomer?

These are some of the questions Arabs and non-Arabs ponder after each and every annual summit ends with empty cliches and little or no actionable consensus on any of the urgent challenges facing the Arab world.

Tunisia, like other host states, hoped the Tunis Summit would leave its mark on history for something, anything. It hoped to see at least some meaningful progress made on the most intractable conflict in the region. There had been already a few precedents.

The 1967 Khartoum Summit gave us the three no's: no to recognition, no to negotiations, and no to peace with Israel. The 1974 Rabat Summit designated the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. And then the 2002 Beirut Summit adopted the Saudi initiative, offering recognition and normalisation with Israel in return for the latter's withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories.

But those results were exceptions coming in the aftermath of wars. In Tunisia, hopes for big results were replaced by hopes for big attendance, and the attempt at a breakthrough ended in a bust.

Like the majority of Arab summits, the 2019 Tunis Summit will go down in history as having achieved nothing of consequence.

The Tunisian president, Mohammed Beji Caid Essebsi, dubbed the event the "summit of solidarity and determination" - a befitting description for a gathering of Arab leaders that displayed much rhetorical solidarity and theoretical determination and little else.

The leaders adopted a dozen and a half resolutions that are bound to be forgotten tomorrow. They made no consequential decisions on any urgent challenge facing the Arab world today; not the war in Syria, not the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, not........

© Al Jazeera