SAUDI ARABIA (OBSERVATORY) – Arab leaders called for an international probe into the use of chemical weapons in Syria and denounced at the Arab summit held on Sunday in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, what they called Iranian interference in other countries’ affairs.
The two regional powers, Saudi Arabia and Iran, have been engaged for decades in a power struggle that is now manifested in proxy wars in several countries, including Yemen and Syria.
“We stress our unequivocal condemnation of the use of chemical weapons against the brotherly Syrian people and call for an independent international investigation that would include the application of international law to all those who are proven to use chemical weapons,” the statement said.
The statement stressed the need to find a political solution to the multilateral war in Syria, which has claimed the lives of at least half a million people in the last seven years.
Syria was not mentioned in a previous statement read at the end of the summit held in the eastern city of Dhahran.
Saudi Arabia and some of its allies expressed support for the rocket strikes by the United States, Britain and France at dawn on Saturday, targeting three suspected chemical weapons facilities, while other Arab states such as Iraq and Lebanon condemned the strikes.
The Syrian government denies using or possessing chemical weapons and says strikes are acts of aggression.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has managed to eliminate the opposition’s threat to overthrow him, thanks to the military support he has received over the last three years from Russia and Iran, which also supports the Lebanese Hezbollah and Shiite factions in Iraq.
The final statement called for tougher international sanctions on Iran and urged Tehran to withdraw its “militias” from Syria and Yemen.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a news conference that the summit “condemned the Iranian interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries, either by inflaming sectarian strife or planting its militias in Arab countries such as Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.”
– The Jerusalem Summit –
Saudi Arabia, which received the rotating presidency of the Arab summit from Jordan, launched the summit at the current summit in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
In the final statement, the delegations pledged to support Palestinians who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
King Salman has pledged $ 200 million to the Palestinians, including $ 50 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Qatar has not sent a senior official to the summit, signaling that its 10-month-old dispute with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt is far from resolved.
The four countries severed diplomatic relations and transport ties with Qatar in June and imposed economic sanctions on them, accusing them of supporting terrorism. Doha denies this and says the boycott is an attempt to undermine its sovereignty.
Qatar’s permanent representative at the university, Saif bin Muqaddam al-Buainain, headed the Qatari delegation, the Qatar News Agency said, without giving details.
Most of the 22 member states of the League of Arab States participate in the Summit at the level of leaders, presidents or heads of government. The Emir of Qatar participated in last year’s Arab summit in Jordan.
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani returned to Doha on Saturday from a visit to the United States where he met with Trump, who is now pressing for a resolution to restore the unity of the Gulf Arab states and maintain a united front against Iran.
The four pre-summit countries announced before the summit that their demands, including the closure of Al Jazeera and the reduction of diplomatic representation with Iran, were a necessary basis for resolving the crisis with Qatar.