Unprecedented challenges undermining Arab identity, says Jordan FM

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir holds talks in Amman with his counterparts from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. (SPA)
Updated 28 March 2017
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Unprecedented challenges undermining Arab identity, says Jordan FM

AMMAN: Arab foreign ministers on Monday embarked on discussions preceding the Arab Summit, due to start Wednesday.
They stressed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root cause of all regional conflicts, which are affecting global security and stability.
“We are witnessing unprecedented tough times, with the Arab region challenged by severe crises undermining Arab identity, Arab consensus and joint coordination,” Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said on Monday at the opening session.
“These challenges have been an obstacle to all development efforts, and deprived Arab citizens of an opportunity to have decent living standards,” he added.
“The lack of joint Arab coordination opened the door wide open for extremists to fill the gap and take the initiative to disseminate their evil ideology among Arab citizens and convert the Arab arena into a war zone.”
Safadi said this also allowed others to step in and interfere in Arab affairs, “decide on our behalf and take decisions that serve their own agendas.”
He added that despite differences, Arab states have much common ground on which they can base themselves in tackling the many issues facing the region, including the Palestinian cause, which remains the core issue in the Middle East.
He said Arabs agree on the need to address the Syrian crisis, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions.
Safadi added that only a political process can address the Syrian crisis and end the bloodshed wrought by six years of war.
A political solution should be based on UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2254 and the outcomes of Geneva negotiations, he said.
Safadi added that the Arab Summit will reaffirm its support for the legitimate Yemeni government, and agree on the need to solve the Yemeni conflict on the basis of UNSC resolutions, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) initiative and the outcome of Yemeni national dialogue.
At the same time, “terrorism must be extracted from its roots. This plague has spread despair, misery and frustration among Arab citizens,” he said, stressing the importance of combating terrorism via revisiting the education system.
He cited UN reports that more than 12 million Arab children do not have access to proper education.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abul Gheit, addressing the meeting, said: “The state of uncertainty among Arabs, driven by the crises plaguing our region, is a challenge that needs to be taken seriously. Millions have become displaced and refugees, scattered across the globe. Many have found safe haven in some Arab countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon, while many others are still waiting, unsure about their future.”
He added: “While we express our most sincere appreciation to the refugees’ host states, we need to stand in solidarity with those countries and share the heavy burden they have been sustaining, considering the huge pressure placed on the infrastructure of these countries resulting from hosting refugees.
“We should not keep dealing with crises hitting our region on an individual basis. We need to act collectively to address these problems instead of letting others run our affairs for us.”
Abul Gheit said the Arab League is suffering from a severe financial crisis, and urged Arab support to enable the organization to assume its duties and play a more effective role.
Meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir held a meeting on the follow-up of the crisis with Iran and ways to address Tehran's interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.
Al-Jubeir discussed with Stefan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, the latest developments in the conflict.


Israel to improve coordination with Moscow over Syria after plane crash

Updated 33 min 12 sec ago
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Israel to improve coordination with Moscow over Syria after plane crash

  • Fifteen Russian crew were killed when the IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia in northern Syria on Monday
  • Russia has said Syria shot the plane down shortly after Israeli jets hit the area

JERUSALEM: Israel said on Thursday it would not halt strikes on Syria but would do more to "deconflict" them with Russian forces, after Moscow accused it of "irresponsible and unfriendly actions" that led to Syrian ground fire mistakenly downing a Russian plane.
Fifteen Russian crew were killed when the IL-20 surveillance plane crashed near Latakia in northern Syria on Monday. Russia has said Syria shot the plane down shortly after Israeli jets hit the area, and accused Israel of creating the dangerous conditions by failing to give sufficient advance notice.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin initially described the downing as "tragic chance", Moscow has made its anger clear.
"Moscow views as irresponsible and unfriendly actions of Israeli Air Force, which exposed Russian Il-20 aircraft to danger and led to death of 15 servicemen," the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv said on Twitter in English, adding that Russia would "take all necessary measures to eliminate threat to life and security of our military fighting against terrorism".
Israel has struck Syria scores of times during its seven-year civil war to prevent what it says are transfers of weapons to Hezbollah fighters and other Iranian allies. Russia has largely overlooked the sorties, which the Israelis say pose no direct threat to Moscow's ally, President Bashar al-Assad.
Israel dispatched its air force chief to brief Moscow about the incident on Thursday. Expressing regret at the loss of life, Israel denied wrongdoing and blamed what it called wanton Syrian anti-aircraft fire after its jets had withdrawn back over the border.
Speaking to Army Radio, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman made clear that Israel would not halt attacks in Syria.
"We will do whatever is necessary to safeguard the security of Israel's citizens ... and we will not hold these discussions over the airwaves," he said.
But when pressed during the interview, Lieberman avoided asserting Israeli "freedom of action" over Syria, a term he has used in the past.
Naftali Bennett, another member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, said "deconfliction mechanisms" would be improved, referring to a Russian-Israeli hotline designed to avoid inadvertent clashes with forces Moscow sent to Syria as part of a military intervention mounted in 2015.
"We will of course strengthen these mechanisms. We will do everything so as not to harm anyone we do not intend to, God forbid," Bennett told Army Radio in a separate interview.
Ron Ben-Yishai, a veteran Israeli military commentator, predicted a more patient air force approach in future strikes.
"It is possible that, next time, they will say, 'Okay let's wait until the (Russian) plane goes back to its base, and then we will carry out the attack,'" Ben-Yishai told Ynet TV.
Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, who like their patron Iran have been helping Assad militarily in Syria, said Israeli strikes there would not prevent them getting advanced weaponry.
"No matter what you do to cut the route, the matter is over and the resistance possesses precision and non-precision rockets and weapons capabilities," Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech.