Arabs must ‘wake up’ to growing threats to regional identity: Arab League chief

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Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit holds talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah last year. (File/AFP)
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Secretary-General of Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaks during a news conference after the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, April 15, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Updated 29 September 2020

Arabs must ‘wake up’ to growing threats to regional identity: Arab League chief

  • The so-called Abraham Accords between Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE were signed under the auspices of Trump at the White House on Sept. 15

CAIRO: The Arab League’s secretary-general has appealed for Arabs to “wake up” to the growing threats to regional identity posed by Iran, Turkey, and Israel.
Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned that any erosion of the league’s role — to promote closer political, economic, cultural, and social relations among member states — may lead to a “handover” of control of the region to other countries.
He pointed out that Iran and Turkey were interfering in the affairs of many Arab states, Ethiopia was imposing its power over Nile waters, and the Palestinian issue was becoming more complicated, all of which was putting pressure on the Arab League and the whole region. And he condemned recent calls for the work of the Arab League to be ended.
“End the Arab League and we hand over the region to Turkey and Iran who will establish the Middle East region, allow Israel in and control the entire region.

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Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said he appreciated Palestinian concerns regarding the agreements signed by the UAE and Bahrain with Israel.

“We Arabs must wake up because there is a threatening pressure on the Arab identity of the region,” he added. Aboul Gheit’s comments came as he spoke to media about his hope for Palestinian “action” following the agreement between Israel and the UAE to establish normal political and economic relations.
He said the historic peace deal, along with a similar US-brokered normalization accord between Israel and Bahrain, had succeeded in irreversible halting of Israeli plans for annexing parts of the West Bank.
He added that he appreciated Palestinian concerns regarding the agreements and accused US President Donald Trump’s administration of having been unfair to the Palestinians. In the wake of the Oslo Accords (between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization), Arab states had started opening offices in Israel, noted Aboul Gheit, but following the uprising they had withdrawn their representatives.
Since the Arab Spring, a number of Arab countries had collapsed or had been weakened under the bullying influences of other regional parties, he said, and internal conditions had led to the emergence of political Islam on an unprecedented scale, leaving a current situation he described as catastrophic.
The so-called Abraham Accords between Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE were signed under the auspices of Trump at the White House on Sept. 15.


Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

Updated 23 October 2020

Turkey irked over joint declaration by Cyprus, Greece and Egypt

  • The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday slammed a joint statement by Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that condemns Turkish energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean and numerous “provocations” that they maintain are threatening regional peace.
The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “fully rejected the declaration containing baseless accusations and allegations.”
During a trilateral regional summit on Wednesday in Nicosia, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis urged Ankara to end its “aggressive” actions.
The joint statement also asked Turkey to accept Cyprus’ invitation to enter negotiations for an agreement on maritime delimitations. Greece and Cyprus have signed maritime border agreements with Egypt while dismissing a similar deal that Ankara signed with Libya’s Tripoli-based government as “legally invalid.”
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said the declaration attacked Ankara rather than supporting peace and stability in the region. It repeated Turkey’s position that cooperation could only take place with the inclusion of Turkish Cypriots in governing and sharing the resources of the ethnically divided island nation.
“We will continue with determination to protect our rights and the rights of Turkish Cypriots in the eastern Mediterranean,” the ministry statement said.
The trilateral summit took place amid high tensions between nominal NATO allies Greece and Turkey over maritime borders and energy rights.
In late summer, Turkey dispatched a research vessel escorted by warships to conduct seismic research in a part of the Mediterranean Sea that Greece claims as its territory, which prompted the Greek government to deploy its own warships.
Turkey pulled the research ship back to shore for several weeks for maintenance and to allow time for diplomacy but redeployed the Oruc Reis on a new energy exploration mission. A maritime announcement by Turkey says the Oruc Reis and two other ships would continue working in the area until Oct. 27.
Turkey also has had ships prospecting for oil and gas reserves in waters that Cyprus claims as its exclusive economic zone.