Summit of irrelevance

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends the closing session of the Arab League Summit at Bayan Palace, Kuwait, Wednesday, March 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Waggi)

The conclusion of the Arab summit in Kuwait Wednesday would have been an eagerly awaited event if the officials had been focused on declaring the summit process halted until further notice.

Instead, the officials gathered for the annual meeting produced another set of resolutions – not even strong enough to be termed “decisions” – that consist of nothing more than a wish list, not a blueprint for serious political action.

In fact, any single resolution, if taken seriously, might take 10 to 15 years to be realized. But the list is conspicuously free of detailed explanations on how these resolutions could be achieved, as well as what happens if they are not.

The same type of rhetoric on Palestine has been evident at Arab official gatherings since the 1950s, with the only significant development being that as time marches on, there is less and less of historical Palestine to be concerned about.

The convening of Arab summits under the current circumstances only guarantees two things. Although this is not their intention, officials end up highlighting the profound differences among Arab League members, while the public becomes increasingly alienated.

One useful exercise in “summitry” would see Arab leaders gather to endorse a single objective and not rest until this dream is achieved. For example, they could endorse compulsory education for all or the diversion of a percentage of spending on armaments to urgently needed socio-economic development.

Otherwise, the spectacle of producing an annual list of problems that need to be addressed, without meaningful follow-up, should be replaced by a resolution that lets this chronically ill patient finally put itself out of our misery.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 27, 2014, on page 7.




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