Arab Mini Summit Planned

Riyadh conference could bring together leaders from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and possibly Jordan and Qatar.

March 9, 2009 14:12
1 minute read.
Arab Mini Summit Planned

saudi abdullah 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

Arab leaders are planning a small-scale summit in the Saudi capital Riyadh this week in order to iron out difference ahead of a routine Arab League meeting later this month in Doha. The summit could bring together leaders from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and possibly Jordan and Qatar. The summit has not been finalized, even though Qatari officials have said they would attend. Israel's military offensive in Gaza in January, in which more than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, took on a more regional form of conflict by pitting Arab countries against each other. Syria, Iran and Qatar supported Hamas in the conflict, whereas Egypt and Saudi Arabia took a more muted stance towards the operation and are seen to be on the side of the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, Hamas's arch rival. Egypt was also criticized for its refusal to open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, with some Arabs saying Cairo in effect aided Israel and did not use its power to help the casualties. Saudi Arabia and Egypt both stayed away from a summit on Gaza called by Qatar and supported by Syria. Saudi Arabia and Syria have had tense relations since 2005, when former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri, a friend of the Saudi royal family, was assassinated in Beirut. Many accusing fingers were pointed at Damascus, since Al-Hariri was outspoken against Syria's involvement in Lebanon. Syria denies it was involved in the killing. The two sides have recently been trying to mend relations, efforts underlined by a visit of the Saudi Foreign Minister Sa'oud Al-Fei'sel to Syria last week.

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