Archive | June, 2019

Triple Summit in Saudi Arabia: Drums of War?

4 Jun

via Triple Summit in Saudi Arabia: Drums of War?

Triple Summit in Saudi Arabia: Drums of War?

4 Jun

Have let this blog languish this year with so much happening, and while trying to write a book.  Spend most of my tracking time on Twitter – follow me there if you like @SherifaZuhur.

The triple summits of the GCC, Arab League and OIC convened in Saudi Arabia were intended to underscore Saudi Arabia’s leadership in regional policy and its centrality to Muslim majority nations. In all three, Saudi Arabia’s King issued an urgent call to support him against Iran’s hostile actions, whether recent or more longstanding and to do so before the end of Ramadan and in Mecca, to remind all of his position as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.   Yet, the nations in these three organizations have different ideas about Iran’s intentions, and the U.S.’s role in deepening a crisis with Iran. Iraq and the smaller Gulf nations would rather avoid enlarging any conflict with Iran.   The Arab League is divided with regarded to numerous other issues, the GCC has been paralyzed since 2017 with the blockade on Qatar, and the OIC’s purview is hardly to declare or enter into wars.

King Salman presided, but it’s unclear if the triple meetings were suggested by his Crown Prince and advisors, or were his own initiative (which seems less likely). It is the Crown Prince who has pursued the war in Yemen and a more actively hostile stance to Iran.


King Salman injected strong condemnations of Iran’s alleged recent attacks (“terrorist attacks threatening the energy supply”, i.e. the attacks off of Fujeira) and interference in Arab states (via the Houthis in Yemen, directly and indirectly in Syria), and Iran’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs. On these counts, the Arab League called for Iran to abide by United Nations’ resolutions, but there was some dissent or statements of exception.


Iraq’s President Barham Salih diverged from the GCC’s final statement arguing against escalation, reminding all of Iraq’s shared border with Iran and that a confrontation could lead to tragedy.


Qatar’s foreign minister also rejected the statements on Iran at the Arab League and GCC meetings, saying they had been prepared prior to the meetings and Qatar had no opportunity to consult; that they contradict Doha’s foreign policy, and that he had hoped the meetings would diminish tension with Iran rather than the reverse. He was then criticized by Gargesh and al-Jubair for his response. That Qatar sent representation was a surprise although the FM attended instead of al-Thani and all we saw of any reconciliation was a handshake between Shaykh Abdullah and King Salman arranged by Kuwait’s Shaykh Al Sabah.


The Arab League also condemned the escalation at al-Aqsa mosque whereby the IDF protected Israeli settlers who gained access. But the Arab League is also divided between Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s continuing cooperation with the U.S. unveiled peace plan and the intended summit in Bahrain.

Rouhani issued a public letter complaining about the non-invitation to the OIC and said the body should focus on the Palestinian issue, which Iran will aid.  Also Iran’s foreign minister complained about the use of the meetings to mobilize the Arab states against Iran.

The call to unite against Iran was also made at the OIC, where there was condemnation of the persecution of the Rohingya and a lengthy resolution to condemn the “transfer of embassies of the United States and Guatemala to Jerusalem” and urged all members to “boycott” countries that have opened diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

Pakistan’s PM, Imran Khan was filmed walking away from King Salman without waiting for translation of his remarks, but then met with him, and gave a speech about the OIC’s responsibility to explain Muslim issues – such as blaspheming the Prophet and the Qur’an – to the West, using an example of the Jewish communities’ successful efforts to convince the world not to speak of the Holocaust without sensitivity.   The meeting prompted the Indonesia’s FM, Marsudi to call for greater unity at the OIC and to warn that dissension threatened the OIC’s credibility (Jakarta Post).

Media outlets reported differing angles of the meetings. Some chose to emphasize deepening rifts, others discounted the importance of the meetings, whereas a CNN piece held that they heightened possible action against Iran.