19:44 GMT +318 December 2018
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    Arab League Summit: The Political Limits of Ethnic Unity

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    Andrew Korybko
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    The upcoming Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia this weekend comes at a time when the Arab States are more divided than ever, drawing into question whether it can ever regain the unity of purpose that it supposedly had in the past.

    The event was originally going to take place in the Kingdom's capital but was moved to the eastern port city of Dhahran due to the missile threat that the Yemeni-based Houthi rebel group poses to Riyadh. This points to one of biggest problems besetting the Arab States today, and that's the Saudi-led War on Yemen. Just like with American military campaigns, this one has its own "coalition of the willing" that doesn't represent the entire region at all, but rather just the GCC, their Egyptian ally, and a few Horn of Africa countries.

    The Arab divisions over the War on Yemen may have played a part in contributing to the Gulf Cold War between Qatar and its former GCC institutional allies who accuse the peninsular state of supporting the shadowy Muslim Brotherhood organization that many of them have labelled as a terrorist group. Since then, Qatar has reached out to non-Arab countries such as Turkey and Iran for relief from the de-facto Gulf blockade that's been imposed against it, which is yet another fault line of division between the Arab States. It's not just Qatar working with those two Great Powers, but also Iraq, Lebanon, and Algeria, while suspended member state Syria works closely with Iran but considers Turkey to be an invader.

    The one thing that all Arab League states supposedly agree on is their public approach towards Palestine, but this might just be an illusion because of recent reports alleging that the GCC countries are a lot closer with Israel than they formally admit. Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with it but still put on a public face of supporting the Palestinian cause, something that has previously unified the increasingly disparate Arab States but might no longer be fulfilling the same role as before given the changing geopolitics of the Mideast in light of the US-encouraged Sunni-Shia split and some countries' deepening anti-Iranian ties with Israel in response. As this year's Arab League summit is about to kick off, it's fitting to wonder whether the limits of ethnic unity have finally been stretched beyond their breaking point.

    Andrew Korybko is joined by Suzan Hanna, Egyptian-Australian activist and awareness campaigner for Yemen, and Syed Ali Zia Jaffery, Research Associate at the Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research at the University of Lahore.

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    Tags:
    Arab League Summit, Arab States, Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen
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