April 01, 2008

Arab (dis)Unity

Iam Black, who has covered the Middle East for The Guardian for quite some time and almost as well as his predecessor David Hirst, has a nice piece up on Comment Is Free on Arab unity -- the the lack thereof:

Muammar Gadafy is usually good for a laugh, and he raised some thin - if strained - smiles at the weekend's Arab summit in Damascus when he took his fellow leaders to task for wasting his time and theirs. Talk of unity, complained Libya's irrepressibly candid "brother leader", was nonsense when Arab states spent their time plotting against each other, achieving nothing and standing idly by when one of their number (Saddam Hussein) was toppled by foreign armies.

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president and summit host, put a brave face on Gadafy's jibes and the embarrassingly low turnout in his spanking new conference centre. But no-shows by 11 heads of state - exactly half the membership of the 22-strong Arab League - was hardly a ringing endorsement of an event described as expressing Arab solidarity or of his own country as "the beating heart of Arabism".