Will Gaza Bring Reconciliation to Divided Arab Leaders?

Did Israel’s invasion of Gaza force the beginnings of reconciliation between the feuding Arab leaders? Many Syrians saw a ray of hope in the meeting between President Assad and Saudi King Abdullah at the Economic Summit in Kuwait.

King Abdullah and President Assad Make Up Under Pressure from Israel?

King Abdullah and President Assad Make Up at the Kuwait Economic summit under pressure from the Arab people who were horrified at Arab divisions that prevented any Arab attempt to respond to Israel's attack on Gaza

Read al-Sharq al-Awsat, here and here

Differences persist according to Reuters.

Arab leaders agreed at a summit on Tuesday to help rebuild the battered Gaza Strip, but differences persisted over finding a united stance on the three-week Israeli offensive that killed more than 1,300 people. Differences over the strength of the wording on Gaza in the declaration delayed the summit’s concluding session…. The final declaration omitted detail on the size of a fund to rebuild Gaza. Foreign ministers meeting on Friday had adopted a resolution to establish a fund of up to $2 billion (1 billion pounds) fund that leaders were expected to back. Saudi Arabia committed $1 billion towards reconstruction on Monday.

AP’s DIANA ELIAS writes:

Earlier Tuesday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, without naming specific countries, said leaders were unable to reach a consensus.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t reach a final result because of time limits and because some are entrenched in their positions,” Zebari told state-owned Kuwait Television.

The failure to agree came a day after Saudi King Abdullah urged Arab leaders to end their differences and warned Israel that an Arab peace initiative proposed by the kingdom would not remain on the table forever.

The king, who along with Egypt have been pressuring Hamas to be more moderate, even invited his Arab rivals — the leaders of Syria and Qatar — to lunch at his Kuwait residence. Following the meal, Qatar’s prime minister expressed optimism that both camps could work together, and local media praised the gathering as a historic “Arab reconciliation.”

But Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak took a veiled swipe at Syria by criticizing Iran’s ties with some Arab leaders — indicating that the two sides were still divided. The Persian country and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are two of Hamas’ main backers and both have strong relations with Syria and Hamas.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia, both staunch U.S. allies, initially blamed Hamas for the Gaza crisis. Later, as the Gaza death toll increased and public pressure in the Arab world to support Hamas mounted, the two Arab powerhouses shifted their accusations toward Israel.

IC writes: “Words of kissing and making up between Bashar Al Assad and Saudi/Egyptian/Jordanian leaders. If this is true, its HUGE. I hate to be a skeptic but i wonder how long this will last. but you cannot miss the irony of this happening the day Bush leaves the White House”

Ehsani2: “By watching the speech of the Saudi King, one cannot but concede that Damascus won big this morning. It is no longer that Syria is responsible for Arab divisions. The King admitted that it was everybody’s fault “without exception”. Israel’s attack on Gaza left the Saudi King with no option but to cut his loss and redeem the little credibility that he, Egypt and Abbas have left when it comes to their silence. As usual, Damascus proves its superior understanding of the region’s geopolitical realities.

Alex writes: “Better late than never … the king should have made that speech a year or two ago, but fine. As for Syria’s choices of allies … I think one of the most valuable ones was Syria’s alliance with Qatar …. in effect Syria got Aljazeera on its side.

The Saudi King was surely aware of the damage he was sustaining on a daily basis throughout the Arab world as Aljazeera covered the Egyptian and Saudi positions on the Gaza massacre. Opinions of guests were increasingly frank and negative… and you could feel the anger mounting against the two US allies.

Mubarak still can not stand Bashar by the way. His body language was quite negative at the meeting. he kept looking to the other side (not Bashar’s side) http://www.sana.sy/servers/gallery/20090119-163937.jpg

Observer writes: “Hamas was looking beyond the campaign on the ground for a campaign to win the elections in the West Bank and undermine Fatah. I think that when Abbas is calling for a unity government he knows that he and his faction are in big trouble. He is the one who was adamant about removing Hamas from Gaza”

Read ‘Abd al-Bari ‘Atwan in alquds alarabi. If this leads to concrete unified action and Egypt follows through with SA, then my hat to Barak, Livni, and the Olmert troika for unifying the Arab fold. It is a big IF, but let us wait and see: Atwan writes:

فمن كان يصدق منظر العاهل السعودي الملك عبد الله بن عبد العزيز وهو يسير متشابك الأيدي مع الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، ومن كان يتوقع ان يرى امير قطر الشيخ حمد بن خليفة يجلس جنباً الى جنب مع الرئيس المصري حسني مبارك بعد المعارك الاعلامية الطاحنة، يتبادلان الابتسامات والأحاديث الودية وكأن شيئاً لم يحدث؟

By the way, the number of homeless in Gaza is estimated at 50 000 and the number without water is 500 000.Uri Avnery writes: The Arab defeat in the 1948 war brought in its wake the fall of almost all the existing Arab regimes and the ascent of a new generation of nationalist leaders, exemplified by Gamal Abd-al-Nasser. The 2009 war may bring about the fall of the current crop of Arab regimes and the ascent of a new generation of leaders – Islamic fundamentalists who hate Israel and all the West..

In coming years it will become apparent that this war was sheer madness. The boss has indeed gone mad – in the original sense of the word.

Ryan Crocker: “”Major traumas have very far-reaching consequences,” he says. “The Israeli invasion of 1982 had a fundamental and ongoing impact on the entire region, and on us. It brought into being the Syria-Iran alliance, it brought into being Hezbollah — and all the second- and third-order consequences, some of which we’re arguably confronting today in Gaza.” Crocker’s innate skepticism made him wary of Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. He won’t talk about his policy views, even now, except to say: “It was all opaque to me. I couldn’t see what would happen.”

Taher al-Nunu, Hamas government spokesman:: “Israel has succeeded in killing everything except the will of  the people,” said Taher al-Nunu, the main government spokesman. “They said they were going to dismantle the resistance and demolish the rockets, but after this historic victory, the government is steadfast, we are working and they were not able to stop the rockets.”

Eyad el-Sarraj, a Gazan psychiatrist who is an opponent of Hamas: “I think Hamas is stronger now and will be stronger in the future because of this war,” said Eyad el-Sarraj, a psychiatrist here who is an opponent of Hamas. “This war has deepened the people’s feeling that it is impossible to have peace with Israel, a country that promotes death and destruction.”

In the LATimes “…The urgency in both men’s voices signaled a position of weakness, reflecting the frustration of Western-oriented Palestinians over the outcome in Gaza……..the authority has no means to reassert its presence in Gaza without the consent of Hamas. And although Hamas said it was open to a new power-sharing deal, it seemed in no hurry to strike one with Abbas, whom one Hamas official dismissed as “a full partner” in the Israeli assault…… “The people are going to hold accountable whoever failed to stand by our people in Gaza,” said Izzeddin Ibrahim, a 25-year-old engineer in Ramallah. “There is no chance left to make peace with those who kill our people. We cannot accept anyone meeting with Israelis anymore.” a large majority of Palestinians, as many as eight in 10, believe Abbas’ peace talks with Israel are pointless and should be halted….. ”


BEIJING: The militant Islamic group Hamas should “face reality” and join the Middle East peace process, a Chinese envoy said Monday, adding the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be resolved by war.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday described the violence in Gaza as a “tragedy” and urged the internationalal community not to marginalise Hamas after its war with Israel. He also criticised Israel for having showed a lack of respect in keeping Turkey, their main regional ally, in the dark over the Gaza offensive. “This lack of respect is something that Israel has to remedy.”
IDIT wrote: “Erdogan can kiss goodbye any hope of joining the EU.”
AP writes: The Middle East envoy is shaping up to be Senator George Mitchell (of Arab-American heritage, mother’s side). All the fears of having a Jewish envoy have been thrown out the door. No “bias”, no “jewish cabal”, to worry about. Right? Of course the US and Israel-haters will find something wrong….
Mark Lynch: Engage on Gaza right away. One of the most glaring aspects of the Gaza crisis was the near-invisibility of the United States. Many people in the region saw this as the logical conclusion of eight years of disastrous American disengagement.  It isn’t going to be easy for Obama to pick up the pieces. In the short term he should make clear that he expects the cease-fire to stick, and take the lead in offering significant reconstruction aid to the people of Gaza.  More broadly, he needs to demonstrate that the U.S. is re-engaging with the Arab-Israeli conflict on new terms.  Not grand but empty promises — Bush promised the Palestinians a state by now, remember.  And not Clinton-era peace processing —  it’s hard to imagine a situation less “ripe” for resolution, the current Palestinian leadership is in no position to deliver anything, and the Gaza war will leave deep scars. Instead, focus on the realities on the ground as they are, not as we would like them to be, and put U.S. diplomatic and material support into building more solid foundations for a renewed peace engagement.
Barak Obama says: “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

Comments (51)

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51. Alex said:

Dear Trust Quest,

I agree that IC’s calling you “Trust Queen” was not appropriate. I understand IC is referring to the few times in the past when you complained that others criticized your opinions and you concluded that SC is, therefore, not friendly to people who view things the way you do.

I hope IC and others will avoid using humor with people they do not know well. Only with those who make it clear that they also enjoy this informal type of language.

But I have to also mention that IC demonstrated in the past that he is not a one-sided admirer of the Syrian leadership. If you really paid attention to everything he writes, you would have noticed that he is frequently critical and therefore you should not conclude that he criticized you because he has no tolerance to your lack of support to the Syrian leadership.


As for the article you posted … Trustquest, I can’t understand how an obviously intelligent and highly educated individual like you can still be impressed with such an obviously Saudi propagandist source and content. Would you stop using your ability to judge as soon as you read ANYTHING, ANYWHERE that shares your dislike of the Syrian leadership?

How would you feel if I started linking Syrian regime propaganda sites, like Champress, and saying “here is some recommended reading that explain the truth about what happened in Kuwait”?

Try this one for example


Do you notice that only the anti-Assad commentators link to propaganda? .. Syrians and Lebanese critics of President Assad routinely link to pathetic Hariri owned and Saudi owned sites as “prrof” that Asssad is an idiot and an Iranian stooge …etc.

Israelis like Akbar Palace link to known Israeli propaganda sites also seriously thinking that we are supposed to accept that as “proof” their views are accurate!

those who like Bashar usually link to favorable articles in the Guardian or Haaretz, not in Syrian propaganda sites.

The only value in linking to a propaganda site is to try to understand the current state of mind of one side or another. for example the Champress article above indicates that Syria is not buying the Arab reconciliation play of the Kuwait summit … Champress is still very critical of Mubarak and Abdullah which would not have been possible if Syria was now a freind of the two Arab leaders.

Trustquest, please understand that

1) You are free to link Saudi propaganda and to believe its content blindly no matter how comical it is. But …
2) A few people on this site will tell you what they think of your trust in such sources. This does not mean that your views are not welcome on this site, but it means that many disagree with you and will let you know that they do. as long as they do it withing the rules and regulations of Syria Comment, then there is nothing wrong with that, I hope.

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January 21st, 2009, 4:33 pm


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